Oh That Depression!

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There are some interesting Depression tidbits out and about lately. Most people, by now, have heard that A&P (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company) has filed for bankruptcy. But most stories don’t mention a root cause of A&P’s financial problems — empty retail space. Crain’s Detroit Business reports that the company has been paying rent “on 73 retail spaces that are no longer occupied by the grocery store — with 21 of those in metro Detroit.” Many of these are long-term leases extending past 2020. A&P has stopped paying on these leases.

As a result, a flurry of lawsuits has been filed by retail store owners who have not been paid. In addition, a retail broker hired to do work for A&P has also filed suit for not being paid.

…Also disclosed in the bankruptcy filings is that the company is involved with 90 ongoing court cases, 42 of which are in Michigan.

Meanwhile, I still smell a potential bankruptcy for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which continues to be on strike while it reported an $8.8M deficit for 2010. DSO management says that bankruptcy is not an option, but the two sides are so far apart while the symphony continues to frustrate its customers — like me — with notices of cancelled concerts and no progress in negotiations.

Borders also continues to teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, perhaps even liquidation.

The other item that caught my eye was an email I received from Best Buy touting its layaway plan.  Burlington Coat Factory, Hallmark, Marshall’s, Sears, and Toys “R” Us also offer frugal living programs for those folks who actually buy things after they have saved the cash for them.

8:55 pm on December 14, 2010