Hastings files for bankruptcy, closes Richland store

Richland’s Hastings Books, Music & Video store could close any day between now and Oct. 31 after the company filed for bankruptcy.

The store at 1425 George Washington Way has been a fixture of the Richland community for the past 11 years and some area residents are frustrated by the closure.

“I’m devastated that they’re closing. I’ve been teaching for 49 years and have used this store since they opened. I also used to shop at the Kennewick Hastings when it was open,” said Kristi Williams of Pasco. The Robert Frost Elementary School music teacher said it’s a “big loss” for her.

The Kennewick store off Highway 395 closed in 2009.

“People think you can just go on Amazon and find anything,” Williams said. “They have some things, but very little foreign art films from Europe and art books,” Williams said. “I will miss having instant access to culture right here locally. The Tri-Cities is an arid area for culture.”

The music teacher also does calligraphy and design work, some of which hangs in museums internationally. She depended on Hastings for art-related books and appreciated its support of local, budding artists.

“I like to shop hands-on. They carry specialized magazines that grocery stores don’t carry, especially art magazines. Their children’s book discounts were great. And they carried local artists’ work – those who were trying to find a market. That’s all gone now,” she said.

Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Group started a going-out-of-business sale at the Richland store July 23. The partners were successful bidders at the July 20 bankruptcy auction. They reported sales of up to 30 percent off the entire stock of books, videos, games and music.

Hastings was founded in 1968 and combined the sales of new and used items. In June, Hastings initiated a process to evaluate potential buyers and ultimately filed under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Richland store is just one of more than a hundred superstores closing nationwide.

Merchandise is no longer available online and gift cards no longer accepted.

The local effect will be felt, Williams said.

“I don’t want to read an art book on a screen. I want to hold it and refer back to it. You can’t put an interactive pop-up children’s book on a screen,” Williams said of technology’s effect on literature. She has visited Hastings several times since learning of the closure, recently stocking up on CDs for her music class and DVDs of Big Bang Theory’s eighth season.

“Hastings met the needs of so many age groups. I always saw small children, teens, middle-age people, and elderly people shopping in here,” Williams said. “It may not be doing well nationally, but I’ll bet this store was doing very well lately. I’m going to really miss them.”

Fran Stanley of Richland, recently took advantage of the sales, buying several books near the end of July. “I occasionally shop here. It’s one less place to get books now that they’re closing,” she said.

Customers aren’t the only ones who feel the effects of business closures.

Richland’s Economic Development Manager Zach Ratkai said there’s certainly an impact with the loss of any long-standing company in the city.

“We don’t like to see them close, but we welcome the opportunity for occupation of the site,” Ratkai said.

He added that “nothing substantial” was in the works to fill the soon-to-be empty space.

Hastings Entertainment Inc. President Jim Litwak said the company hoped its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection would help prepare the business for an intended sale while providing additional safeguards and financing to allow its 123 stores in the U.S. to stay open, but the process was unsuccessful.

“We thank our loyal employees and customers and encourage all to take advantage of the incredible savings this sale will offer,” Litwak said.

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