Everything Must Go To The Liquidators

Retailing's vultures are getting fat as stores drop like flies

With store chains dropping dead left and right, the past year in retailing has been as dismal as any in recent memory. Except, that is, for the industry's undertakers: the small and all-but-invisible clutch of companies that come in and liquidate leftover merchandise when a retailer shuts down or shrinks. Liquidators purchase the inventory, run the going-out-of-business (GOB) sale, and make a living on the difference. And retailing's plague year has been very good to them: In 1995, they disposed of an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion worth of goods, about double 1994 levels.

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