The Hastings Entertainment store at Valley Mills Drive and Bosque Boulevard will continue its liquidation sale through Thursday, when the store that for 23 years has attracted crowds seeking books, electronics and movies will go dark as the Amarillo-based company calls it quits under the cloud of bankruptcy protection.
A visit to the 33,000-square-foot store late last week revealed a dwindling supply of merchandise, much of it marked down 70 to 90 percent, and about a dozen people browsing half-filled shelving and display carts for that hidden gem among obscure movie titles, including “Mississippi Grind,” “Monsoon Wedding” and “3 Geezers.”
Here and there were phone protection cases, an Elvis photo book, doll-sized replicas of “The Big Bang Theory” stars and new video games marked down 70 percent.
“We’re so sad it’s closing,” said Kendra Eaton, 20, who joined Shyane Biles, 20, both students at McLennan Community College, in checking out what’s left from sales that gradually produced bigger discounts. “We always came here twice a month. When we needed a new movie to watch, this was the place.”
Jacob Walker, 13, was pushing a basket brimming with action figures and collectibles.
“I’m going to miss it,” Walker said. “I love shopping here for comic books.”
Even the store fixtures have hit the market as the curtain falls on the store’s final act. An employee said the wastebaskets in the bathrooms will become available.
Hastings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, and then in July announced it would close all its 126 stores. At the time of the bankruptcy action, the company indicated it would seek a buyer that might keep some or all of the stores operating. But that did not happen. Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC collaborated on the purchase of Hastings and announced it would oversee the liquidation of its assets, with a goal of closing all stores by Oct. 31.
Hilco last week sent out a press release saying the final day of sales at 15 stores, including five in Texas, would come, Oct. 20. Calls and emails inquiring about the status of the Waco store were not returned, but a staffer at the store said it would be shuttered at the close of business on Oct. 27.
A sign in the store Friday reminded shoppers there were only seven days left to take advantage of the deep discounts, and that all sales are final.
“I’m terribly disappointed,” said Frances Casanover, 33, of Gatesville, who visited Hastings often on her 40-mile trips to Waco, including three times during its closeout sale.
“I bought music, video games and books I couldn’t find anywhere else,” Casanover said.
On Thursday, she was picking up several seasons of the popular “Gotham” series while shopping with her 16-year-old son, Logan Casanover.
Emma Wheeler, 27, of Waco, said she heard about the sale and stepped inside “just to look for cheap stuff, and I’m finding it.”
Prices of T-shirts and new video games had been cut by 70 percent, while used books were marked at 10 cents each and many used CDs were marked at 25 cents each.
“I came here for the sales and I can get all of this for $10. You can’t beat that,” said Gwen Richardson, 57, who had filled both hands with merchandise. “I do hate that Hastings is closing. They’re the only store left in Waco where you can rent movies without going to one of those dollar machines.”
33,000 square feet
Hastings locally occupies about 33,000 square feet in the 60,530-square-foot Bosque Place shopping center that also houses Office Depot and a Subway sandwich shop.
Waco attorney Artie Giotes is among a group of investors who own the Hastings space, and Giotes said he has received inquiries. But exactly when the store will become available after Hastings shutters its space for the last time remains unclear. Giotes said Hastings has paid its lease through October.
With the closing of Hastings, Barnes & Noble on West Waco Drive becomes the only national-name bookstore operating in Greater Waco. Books-A-Million closed its store in Central Texas Marketplace in 2013, having operated there since 2005. That space now is occupied by Gap and Ulta Beauty.
Shortly after the chain announced its plans to close, Pat Farrar, a commercial real estate agent with The Reid Co., said he thinks the Hastings space is desirable, primarily because of its size.
“At 33,000 square feet, the space would lend itself to a variety of retail uses because it could be split in half,” Farrar said at the time.
The store is right across Bosque Boulevard from a Target Greatland store and near the H-E-B at Bosque Boulevard and Wooded Acres Drive.