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CHICAGO -- The bid deadline for the purchase of hundreds of Swifty Serve Corp.'s convenience stores has been extended until Dec. 17 because hundreds of potential buyers have asked for information.
Swifty Serve closed its Durham, N.C., headquarters in October and filed for bankruptcy. Some 600 convenience stores across the Southeast locked their doors after the company announced the action, which left approximately 3,200 employees out of work. The stores are being sold by National Real Estate Clearinghouse (NRC), the Chapter 11 trustee appointed to oversee Swifty Serve's liquidation.
Swifty Serve operated stores in 12 states under a variety of names including Country Cupboard, EZ Serve, Swifty Mart, Crown, Pepco, Dixie, TownStar and Camp. Gas brands include BP, Chevron, Citgo, Exxon and Shell.
"We've had a tremendous surge of interest since Thanksgiving," said Evan Gladstone, managing director of NRC. "Buyers are just now realizing that the Swifty Serve bankruptcy is a one-time opportunity to look at 600 sites in 12 states and bid in a 'buy one, some or all' format."
Gladstone told CSNews Online he was concerned about industry rumors that have Swifty Serve co-founders Clay Hamner and Wayne Rogers reacquiring a large portion of the stores because "that could lead people not to bid" on the units, he said.
Instead, he said, all reasonable offers will be given serious consideration. There is no minimum or maximum price requirement as part of the sealed-bid sale, but bidders must deposit $10,000 or 2.5 percent of the bid price, whichever is greater. Deposits will be refunded if a bid loses.
"I spoke with a number of very serious buyers interested in purchasing 20-50 stores as well as dozens of bidders for single sites," Gladstone said.
To ensure all buyers have an equal opportunity to bid on the stores, NRC last month held seminars in Atlanta, Tallahassee, Fla., and New Orleans to instruct prospective bidders how to manage the bidding process.
ABOVE: NRC's Evan Gladstone.