Skatepark of Tampa Files For Bankruptcy

Posted on Wednesday, April 01, 2009 by Press

Skatepark of Tampa said today it will file a petition for bankruptcy protection this afternoon.

The Chapter 11 reorganization filing will allow the retailer to break the leases of underperforming stores, many which were opened in the past 12 months as the Tampa, Florida company embarked on a major expansion.

Skatepark of Tampa has closed 80 stores during the past few weeks, bringing its current store count to 993. The stores that have closed are in Lakeland (downtown), Lutz, Palm Harbor, Palmetto, Port Richey (301), and Inverness. 30 more stores are on "the bubble" and will stay open if the company is able to renegotiate leases with landlords, Skatepark owner Brian Schaefer told me in an interview.

Schaefer said many of the stores that closed did not have time to mature before the economic crisis hit and were "sucking cash from the company." He also said SPoT opened some new stores too near to older stores and that cluster strategy did not work.

Other new stores, such as Columbus Drive, are doing well. "We found we do great as a destination, not as a cluster," he said.

Schaefer said that he hopes the bankruptcy filing, while painful, will allow the company, which is celebrating its 16th anniversary, to begin the healing process and return to being a strong company with 993 stores instead of 1001.

"We look forward to creating a great Skatepark of Tampa that is an asset to all of its partners," he said.

Schaefer and GM, Ryan Clements, have met with 30 vendors in the past three weeks to explain the situation, Schaefer said. He said vendors have been very supportive and have said they will ship fresh goods to Skatepark of Tampa on a COD basis. Some have even said they will offer SPoT credit terms as soon as Skatepark of Tampa filed for bankruptcy, Schaefer said.

Vendors had stopped shipping to Skatepark of Tampa because of past due balances and because the chain was considered a credit risk. Schaefer said the company also didn't accept any new goods in the last 30 days because it didn't want to make the situation worse.

As a result, the stores that are still open are filled with private label goods with a limited selection of branded merchandise.

Schaefer said fresh goods from brands will be landing in stores during the next 90 days - more, he said, than the company has received all year.

"We expect to have a well-stocked Skatepark of Tampa for summer and for back to school," he said.

One of the ways SPoT has freed up cash flow to pay for fresh goods is to reduce its corporate overhead and store personnel expenses by 80%, Schaefer said. Approximately 750 people now work at Skatepark corporate offices.

As far as paying past due vendor balances, Schaefer said the company's goal is to pay what it can, but that it will be up to the bankruptcy court to decide what outstanding debts get paid.

The court will also decide whether Skatepark of Tampa stays in its state-of-the-art 100,000 square foot headquarters just outside beautiful Ybor City, which the company moved into in 1993.

Before the recession kicked into full force, SPoT had been close to bringing in a financial partner. Schaefer said they still talk to potential investors all the time and he believes there are still several opportunities.

Schaefer wanted to say that he hopes the industry can work together through the challenging recession.

"I do think if we can get through this mess (the industry) will see better days ahead," he said.

Scenes From Innetech, Skatepark of Tampa's Evil Corporate Division

A Session With the Elwood Team
This part of the Park in the back is referred to as Innetech. We don't have any red staplers, but we keep it office as hell back here doing online stuff. Angel takes and uploads product photos. Gonzo and Lako in the back create products and manage inventory. Jon Mann is also back here with us pushing online orders out of our ASS (Asian Sweat Shop - online order processing). Ichabod and Jacob stick those little bar codes on products. And finally, there's me talking crap about everyone on the Internet. What a team
A Random Chill Cam Dump From Vancouver
I haven't been spending too much time in Innetech, our back offices where all the online staff and I sit. There's Angel taking product photos. Why is Online Guy always straight up nekkid? We should at least get a leaf for him or something
Wheelies, Endos, and Sauce
Goodbye NYC. I am finally back at our back offices here at Skatepark of Tampa that we refer to as Innetech. This is the lair of Angel and Gonzo. They get to handle all the skateboard stuff that comes through our doors. Looks like we got some new Vans
Innetech is where the whole inventory and online staff at Skatepark of Tampa bang on keyboards all day. We have to get Online Guy properly dressed for these Red Bull Girls coming to decorate
How are we supposed to get work done at Innetech with this going on?
The Red Bull Girl makeover of Innetech continues. That's Lako below. He now keeps things super tight and puckered in the ASS (Asian Sweat Shop - online order packing). Looks like we're getting some kind of black and red theme going back here. As long as the place doesn't end up looking like a busted ass Red Bull helmet, we won't have to paint over it when they leave
In the true Innetech normal ass office environment spirit, we had Pizza Friday here at Skatepark of Tampa for everyone that works here. We watched the Fallen video in the Snack Bar. Holy crap, Gilbert Crockett kills it. I remember when I first noticed him a couple years ago
Harvest Jam 2008
Alex Bowers aka Miami Jackson, is now back working in Innetech with us. That jacket would go good with Kenzie on your arm
Mid-November 2008 Course Construction
It's not a regular afternoon on the keyboard at Innetech. How about a dance party on the flat bottom? Schaefer and Mike get down
SPoT Ghetto Christmas Party 2008
Boston, welcome to the Former SPoT Employee Club. He's over it at Innetech back here
SPoT Ghetto Christmas Party 2008
John Party of the Former SPoT Employee Club and Gonzo, current holder of said former employee's position in Innetech
Tampa Pro Chill Time 2009
The corpo part of SPoT is called Innetech. This is my workspace in Innetech and those piles of boxes are all going to South Africa with Schaefer. Dirty Bird is going, too. You wish you were as well traveled as Dirty Bird

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