Economy, competition led to the end for Maine chain

MajorsJul 14, 2015

Economy, competition led to the end for Maine chain

The attorney who handled the bankruptcy filing for G.M. Pollack & Sons discusses the myriad factors that forced this 60-year-old jewelry business to liquidate. 

This file photo shows one of the 12 G.M. Pollack & Sons locations. Founded in 1955, the chain filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Saturday night and will liquidate its assets.
South Portland, Maine--G.M. Pollack & Sons, an employee-owned chain of 12 stores in Maine, is no more. 

On Saturday evening, the last of the chain’s stores in operation, the South Portland location, shut its doors. Shortly afterward, The Pollack Corp. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine.

Chapter 7 means the business is being liquidated; there will be no reorganizing and emerging from bankruptcy, as with Chapter 11.

“The stores were on the decline over time,” said Steven Cope, the Portland, Maine, attorney who handled the filing for G.M. Pollack. “The decision was made that there was not enough of a business to rehabilitate. The option at that point was to liquidate.”

He said the chain never really recovered from the economic crisis, not unlike the many other specialty jewelers that have been shutting down recently.

Factors that led to the chain’s demise include the shrinking middle class, the still-sputtering economy and increased competition for consumers’ limited dollars. 

Jewelers are not only in competition with each other anymore but also with luxury experiences, such as exotic trips, expensive food and wine and entertainment, and may find that consumers are not as “excited” about spending on jewelry, Cope observed.

Court papers show that G.M. Pollack, a 60-year-old jewelry business, has assets worth an estimated $500,000 to $1 million but owes between $1 million and $10 million to as many as 999 creditors.  

Cope said another Portland attorney, Anthony Manhart, has been appointed the trustee in the case. 

He said the creditors in the case have been notified of the bankruptcy by mail. Manhart will be contacting them regarding consignment merchandise as well as the distribution of funds once the chain’s assets have been liquidated. 

Manhart also is handling the return of any jewelry consumers had in for repair or on layaway and the sale of the store’s intellectual property, including its name. 

Gerald M. Pollack, who got his start as a sales clerk at a Roger’s Jewelers stores in Boston, opened G.M. Pollack & Sons in 1955 when he moved from Boston to Maine with his wife, Perle.

He died in 1999, and his son Stan took over the business, which eventually grew to a total of 11 stores in Maine and one in Newington, N.H.

The last time National Jeweler  published its State of the Majors report, in 2012, G.M. Pollack ranked No. 37 on the list of the Top 50 North American retail chains, tied with Robbins Brothers.

Stan retired in 2008 and sold G.M. Pollack & Sons to its employees, making it the first employee-owned jewelry store chain in Maine.

Pollack, who is reported to be 76, retired and living in South Portland, could not be reached for comment on the chain’s closing Tuesday.

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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