The Bankruptcy Courts conduct almost all of their business via electronic filing. When a debtor’s bankruptcy document is filed with the court, it is first prepared as a paper hard copy which is physically signed with a pen. A PDF of that document with what looks like a typed signature is then filed over the internet with the court. The PDF copy is then automatically sent to the email accounts of the attorneys involved in the case such as the Debtor’s attorney, the trustee, and the U.S. Trustee. A little known bankruptcy rule allows Debtors to be put on the list of those who receive the email notices that the attorneys receive. This is a great way for Debtors to stay on top of what is happening in their case. For more information on how this works in the Western District of Wisconsin, check out this link. http://www.wiwb.uscourts.gov/debtor-electronic-bankruptcy-noticing-debn
I have written previously about the struggles of Gander Mountain and Payless Shoe Source, and they are not alone according to a recent Bloomberg article. Retailers are filing bankruptcies at a record rate. The cause? Online shopping. As more and more people shop online, brick and mortar establishments are closing stores at a rapid rate. There is a silver lining to this cloud. Rents for retail space are going down!
Despite filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, Gander Mountain will be closing 126 stores nationwide including the one in Janesville, WI, according to a report today in the Janesville Gazette. This will certainly be a loss to hunters, fishermen and other sportsmen in Rock County as the article included an interview with a customer who said that the next nearest comparable store would be Cabella’s in Sun Prairie. However, a short term benefit does exist in the form of a going out of business sale. The article did seem to hold out the possibility of the store continuing to operate under new ownership, but this has not been confirmed by anyone at Gander Mounatain.
This story piqued my interest because there is a Payless ShoeSource store next to our office. When I give directions to my office I say that I am across from the Post Office and most people have a general idea of where that is, but when I say I am next door to Payless ShoeSource a common response is, “I know exactly where you are!” So, given this seeming popularity I was surprised to read a report at mlive.com, based on a Bloomberg report, that Payless is planning on filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closing 500 of their approximate 4,000-plus stores worldwide. The purpose of bankruptcy is to provide honest debtors who have fallen on hard times a fresh start. Hopefully, bankruptcy will provide Payless with the fresh start they need to get back on track and keep their Janesville store open.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last month that,”Bankruptcy filings in Wisconsin fell to their lowest level in nine years in 2016 as an improving economy and jobs climate helped more consumers keep up with their debts.” The article raises the possibility that bankruptcies may increase in 2017 because it has now been eight years since the last peak in filings. Eight years is the amount of time required to elapse between the filing of consecutive Chapter 7 cases that provide the debtor a discharge of debts.