Christmas Tree Shops could liquidate entire chain

PROVIDENCE – It may be a cruel summer for fans of the Christmas Tree Shops. 

The Massachusetts-based business has been around more than 50 years but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 4. Now it may have to close and liquidate all of its remaining stores, including two in Rhode Island, after the company defaulted on its $45 million bankruptcy loan, according to multiple news outlets. 

The Wall Street Journal reported on June 30, Christmas Tree Shops Inc. filed an agreement in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, to liquidate all of its 70 stores, including its two locations in Rhode Island at 19 East Main Road in Middletown and 300 Quaker Lane Road in Warwick. It also has local locations in North Attleborough and North Dartmouth.

According to the report, creditors terminated the loan after they defaulted on the terms because liquidity and revenues worsened. Objections to the liquidation plan are due in court by July 6. 

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In an email to employees on June 30, obtained by WBSN 1420-AM in New Bedford, Laura Britton, head of people and culture for Christmas Tree Shops, said the company has defaulted to the lenders that had provided the capital to keep the company going during the Chapter 11 proceedings. She added the lenders have only agreed to continue to fund the company “to pursue a going concern sale of its business” through July 5. 

“While CTS is hopeful that it may be able to consummate a going concern sale, if it is not able to enter into an asset purchase agreement on or before July 5, 2023, CTS will be forced to engage in an orderly liquidation of its assets,” Britton said in the email. 

The company originated as a single store in 1950 on Route 6A in Yarmouth Port, The Christmas Tree Gift Shop, that was only open May through October to serve vacationers. 

Chuck and Doreen Bilezikian bought the business in 1970 and expanded the store beyond winter season gifts with summer vacation items such as beach towels, sunscreen and nick knacks.   

In June 2003 Bed Bath and Beyond, which filed for bankruptcy protection on April 23, purchased Christmas Tree Shops Inc. for about $200 million in cash. 
Bed Bath and Beyond sold Christmas Tree Shops to Handhill Holdings LLC in November 2020 for an undisclosed amount. In 2022, The Christmas Tree Shops logo was then changed to CTS to project that the store sold more than Christmas goods. 

There are 15 Christmas Tree Shops locations in Massachusetts, including five on Cape Cod: Avon, Falmouth, Foxborough, Holyoke, Hyannis, Lynnfield, Natick, North Attleborough, North Dartmouth, Orleans, Pembroke, Sagamore, Shrewsbury, Somerville and West Dennis. The company also operates a warehouse in Middleborough.