Eddie Bauer goes belly up

Eddie Bauer made its mark selling rugged apparel and outdoor gear, but it's having a hard time surviving this economic climate.

Shortly after filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. got a visit from a knight in shining armor: Private equity.

CCMP Capital Advisors LLC has bid $202 million in cash for Eddie Bauer's assets, including 371 retail stores, most of which CCMP says will remain open if the deal goes through. Other buyers can also bid on the company while in Chapter 11.

Eddie Bauer has been saddled with debt and slammed by the recession, but is it even still relevant?

I have fond memories of perusing the Eddie Bauer catalog as a kid, coveting boots and flannel lined jeans for the harsh winters of the Midwest. Dreaming of new tents and camping gear to make summer tours of national parks more comfortable. But Eddie Bauer strayed from these outdoorsy roots some time ago, and started carrying home goods, furniture and "fashion" apparel. There's even an Eddie Bauer Ford SUV.

Just about everything seems out of touch with today's market. So it's hardly a surprise that total sales dropped approximately 18% for the first quarter of this year. According to the court filing, the company has nearly $427 million in debt and just $476 million in assets.

I'm not the only one feeling nostalgic about the Eddie Bauer of old. The same is true of LL Bean and Lands End. Iconic retail brands don't always survive changes, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
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