It's the end of the road for Avenue Stores, a plus-size women's clothing retailer that is closing all its locations nationwide, including in Highland and Merrillville.
The New Jersey-based retailer has decided to close all of its 222 stores in 33 states. It's now running liquidation sales at its stores at 8301 Indianapolis Boulevard in the Highland Ultra Plaza and at 1808 E. 80th Ave. in the Merrillville Plaza, slashing prices by 30% to 50%.
"All items, brands and even in-store fixtures are being sold," retail liquidator Hilco Merchant Resources announced in a news release.
The company started as Sizes Unlimited in 1983 before rebranding as Avenue. It was acquired by the now-defunct Redcats USA, part of the French fashion group Kerig, in 2007, and went bankrupt in 2012, when it was acquired by Philadelphia-based private equity firm Versa Capital Management. It has four stores in Indiana and has had a store in north Highland since at least the 1990s.
Serving a target audience of women between the ages of 25 and 55, Avenue sold merchandise like denim, swimwear, shoes, accessories and dresses in women's sizes 14-32.
Hilco Merchant Resources and Boston-based Gordon Brothers are winding down the chain, which once had as many as 259 stores nationwide. A consortium spokesperson said the merchandise is "sure to sell out quickly."
Brick-and-mortar retailers have been closing across the Region and nationwide in recent years, largely due to a physical retail landscape some industry observers describe as "overbuilt" and the rise of e-commerce. While the vast majority of purchases are still made in traditional retail stores, more and more retail sales are taking place online.
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates e-commerce accounted for 14.3% of total retail sales in the United States last year, up from 12.9% in 2017. The corresponding loss of business has forced many brick-and-mortar retailers to close stores or completely go out of business.
Northwest Indiana has seen many retail closings of various stores, including Sears, Kmart, MC Sports, H.H. Gregg, Carson's, the Sports Authority, Lowe's and Dressbarn.