Circuit City. Linens 'N Things. Bombay Co. They're all out of business, their stores shuttered, many employees laid off.
But according to their old Web sites, they're all still selling, or planning to sell, the same stuff they always did -- everything from digital picture frames to leopard-print rugs.
How can this be? Didn't these companies shut down?
Typically, when a company goes out of business by way of bankruptcy, other companies buy its assets -- everything from cash registers and furniture to unsold merchandise. Also for sale are assets like the company's name, logo and Web site -- some experts say a name still has value even if the company has gone belly up.
Electronics retailer Circuit City, which closed down the last of its 567 stores in March, is one of the most prominent names that's gone under. Online retailer Systemax Inc. bought the Circuit City brand and Web site, http://www.circuitcity.com, in May. The company sells the same types of products that Circuit City did, like flat-panel televisions, computers and the Nintendo Wii, and says on its site it offers a wider selection than Circuit City had in its stores or online.
The Linens 'N Things brand also is still selling. The home goods retailer went out of business this past winter and in February a company called LNT Acquisition LLC bought the Web site LNT.com and the Linens 'N Things brand name, according to the Web site. It still sells items once found in the chain's stores, like dishes and bedding, and has since added more premium brands, like Calvin Klein and Laura Ashley, according to the site.
Gadget retailer The Sharper Image, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2008 and has closed all of its stores, lives on as a brand, not a retailer. Visitors to its site, http://www.sharperimage. com, are pointed to retailers like OfficeMax, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macy's, where Sharper Image products -- like massage chairs and weather clocks -- are sold.