WATERLOO REGION — The North by Northwest outdoor clothing store chain is bankrupt and will be closing in the coming weeks.
The chain has locations at Waterloo's Conestoga Mall, Guelph's Stone Road Mall and London's Masonville Place. Its website lists a distribution centre in Cambridge.
Previously, the retailer had a fourth location at Barrie's Georgian Mall.
The company's website says North by Northwest has been operating since 1985. It is not known if it took its name from the famous 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film, but appears likely. The clothing chain says "We sell adventure."
Several customers have posted complaints on the company's Facebook page saying that gift cards to the store were no longer being accepted.
University of Waterloo student Carly Cameron found that out in person just over a week ago when she tried to redeem a $200 gift card at the Conestoga Mall store. "It's just frustrating," Cameron said.
After the winter boots she bought at the store last year ripped, she returned them and was given the $200 card. When she went looking for new boots last month, she was told the store wouldn't accept the card.
"I'm out winter boots and $200," she said. "It's a lot for a student."
According to bankruptcy notices that were given to customers including Cameron, the company filed an assignment in bankruptcy on Oct. 13. Accounting firm Schwartz Levitsky Feldman has been appointed trustee.
Calls to that firm by The Record were not returned. Cameron said she's also tried, unsuccessfully, to speak to the accounting firm.
Signs throughout the Waterloo store state that "Everything must be sold, up to 60 per cent off" and "Sale conducted by Continental Auctioneers."
An employee said the store could remain open until mid-January or so.
Another employee said upwards of 50 full and part-time staff will lose their jobs when the chain closes.
The options for people with gift cards from a bankrupt store may be limited, cautions Consumer Protection Ontario.
Customers can contact the trustee in bankruptcy, and may be able to file a claim as a creditor to see if they might get some or all of their money back.