MC Sports in bankruptcy, future uncertain

Company says it is millions of dollars in debt to sporting goods companies

MC Sports
MC Sports' corporate office.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After 70 years as a West Michigan retail staple, MC Sports has declared bankruptcy.

MC Sports opened in Grand Rapids in 1946, selling World War II surplus in addition to fishing, hunting and outdoor sporting goods. It would grow to include more than 70 stores in seven states throughout the Midwest.

But that legacy is in jeopardy.

For decades, MC Sports was the big retailer in many communities, but the advent of online shopping and the arrival of megastores like Dick’s and Cabela’s took its toll on the company. Over the last four years, the company has changed its approach with some smaller stores and began closing some of its underperforming outlets — including the store at Rogers Plaza in Wyoming more than a year ago.

But according to its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, weak holiday sales last year resulted in even more financial distress for the company.

MC Sports currently has more than $170 million in annual revenues and employs more than 1,300 people.

But in 2016, the company operated at a $5.4 million loss, according to the filing. The company states it has $3.8 million in trade debt to Nike, $2.4 million to Under Armour and almost a half-million dollars to Wilson. The company also owes its employees $150,000 in matching funds to company-provided 401k plans.

In the filing, President and CEO Bruce Ullery says the company was unable to reach an out-of-court settlement with its creditors.

The company says it will have liquidation sales at all 68 of its stores and specifically lists seven stores outside Michigan that are being closed.

In the document, the company says it plans to honor all gift cards and will continue to accept returns and exchanges.

Whether some or all of the stores will be closed is up in the air as of now. Employees who spoke to 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday have heard conflicting information.

The company and its attorney have not been available to clarify, but its court paperwork leaves the door open to finding alternative funding or to seek a buyer that might keep the stores open.