|Headquarters||Meriden, Connecticut, United States|
|Number of locations||35|
|Products||Clothing and footwear|
|Owner(s)||Versa Capital Management|
Bob's Stores is a chain of 35 retail stores in the northeastern United States owned by Versa Capital Management. Founded as Bob's Surplus in Middletown, Connecticut, by Bob Lapidus in 1954, the chain expanded gradually until it was acquired by TJX in 2003. The chain targets moderate to high-income customers with a selection of footwear, workwear, teamwear, and activewear.
In 1954, Bob Lapidus opened Bob's Surplus on Main Street in Middletown, Connecticut. His original business strategy was to "Treat all customers with respect and dignity and they will return again and again". As Bob's Surplus increased in popularity, its location was hindering its growth; in 1962, Lapidus moved the store to a larger building across the street. In 1967, the store was forced to move again after a fire destroyed the building.
In 1975, the second Bob's Surplus was opened in Enfield, Connecticut; the third store was opened in Hamden, Connecticut, in 1981. The chain renamed itself to simply "Bob's" in 1985, and began changing its marketing strategy by emphasizing quality and adding casual activewear to its list of products. In 1990, the chain had expanded to five stores; that year, it was acquired by the Melville Corporation (now CVS Corporation). Bob's expanded rapidly under the corporation; by March 1, 1996, the chain had grown to 34 stores across the northeastern United States. During this period, Melville considered Bob's Stores a key company, stating that they were spending time to "lay a solid base for rapid expansion [for Bob's Stores] in the years ahead". Despite the growth, Bob's Stores remained most popular in its origin state of Connecticut.
In 1997, Melville sold all of its chains except CVS Pharmacy; Bob's Stores was sold to the chain's management and Citicorp Venture Capital. In 1999, the upper executive level of the chain experienced numerous changes in personnel while many in the company became concerned with competition from stores like Kohl's. However, Bob's focus on sports team-related apparel was considered a strength during this period; one Bob's executive stated that the lack of a consistent national sports champion in the late 1990s hurt larger chains more than they hurt Bob's Stores, because consumers were more interested in regional teams (which the chain supplies). In 2000, Bob's Stores created its first website.
In 2003, Bob's Stores went bankrupt. In late 2003, Dick's Sporting Goods outbid companies such as TJX Companies and tried to buy the chain for over $113 million. Dick's had intended to close most of the Bob's Stores locations. TJX felt that that this was unfair to the employees and TJX brought it to court in Maine. The courts sided with TJX to save the thousands of jobs that would have been lost and TJX was allowed to purchase the chain for $113 million. TJX Companies expressed interest in Bob's Stores because it shared similar characteristics to other TJX chains, including large stores and similar brands. Although there were also numerous differences between Bob's Stores and TJX's other chains, one expert felt that this would help diversify TJX's lineup.
On August 19, 2008, TJX announced they would sell Bob's to private equity firms Versa Capital Management and Crystal Capital.
Bob's Stores launched an online store June 1, 2012.
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- Scardino, Emily (2003-12-10). "Bob's brings new dimension to TJX - TJX Companies Inc. acquires Bob's Stores Inc. for less than $100 million". Gale Group. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
- "COMPANY NEWS; TJX WINS BIDDING FOR BOB'S, A RETAILER IN BANKRUPTCY". New York Times. 2003-12-20. Retrieved 2007-02-24.