Goodbye Buys: Seven Stores, Brands You Miss

Stores youll miss - Circuit City, Steve & Barry?s, Pontiac, Mervyn?s, and Bennigan?s

For Kathryn Katz, the closure of a Bennigan's restaurant, her favorite neighborhood "watering hole," evoked feelings so strong, she put them into verse.

"Eating out is no longer the same without my friends/At Bennigan's," Katz wrote in a 16-line poem she sent to (Read Katz's full poem here.)

The parent company of the restaurant chain filed for bankruptcy protection last year, forcing the closure of dozens of Bennigan's restaurants. Outlets owned by franchisees remained open, but unfortunately for Katz, that did not include the eatery near her suburban Fort Lauderdale, Fla. home.

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Katz said she missed the restaurant not just for its food but for its atmosphere. She and her family had become so friendly with the staff that sometimes the waitresses would just sit at their table and chat.

"It was part of a chain," Katz said, "but the people who ran it made it almost like a family place."

As the recession continues to stress American businesses, many aren't surviving -- more than 43,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy in 2008, up 54 percent from the year before, according to the Federal Judiciary -- and that's bringing a different kind of stress to American consumers, said Lars Perner, an assistant professor for clinical marketing at the University of Southern California.

"You have the recession going on and this is just one more thing that makes it harder to bear," Perner said.

Perner said that consumers' attachments to businesses can range from the practical -- they appreciated low prices or convenient locations -- to the nostalgic.

For instance, he said, "I imagine it could be a little disillusioning if the place where you bought your wedding ring went out of business." readers across the country shared a range of reflections on the closure of some of their favorite companies. Certain stores and brands drew stronger reactions than others. For more of what readers like Katz had to say, see the next page.


Automaker General Motors announced earlier this week that it would phase out its Pontiac brand next year. GM introduced the brand, known for its Firebird, Trans Am and Grand Prix models, among others, in 1926. Some readers told us they have long, personal histories with the Pontiac brand.

"I got to help my dad pick out a Bonneville the one year (1963) we lived in West Palm Beach, Florida. I was in fourth grade and we needed a car so Dad and I picked out the most beautiful Bonneville - all white with red trim (not seats, just trim). We never had a better, sweeter car."
- Amy Mayhall, Santa Barbara, Calif.

"My first automobile that I purchased on my own was a 1985 Sunbird. It lasted approximately 10 years, then I purchased a used '94 Sunbird in '95 because they had stopped making them. It too lasted until 2004. ... I put well over 100,000 miles on both of my Pontiacs. I will be retiring soon and I was going to purchase a new Pontiac as my retirement car, but things change, which I just have to accept. ... It's a sad day for us GM drivers."
- Cherisee Beasley, Detroit.

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