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A.J. LaFleur and Mary P. Colwell: Hard landing for Mountain Goat after closing

The inventory, fixtures and equipment of the Mountain Goat outdoor gear and clothing store were put on the block Friday by auctioneer Paul Scheer, right, of Aaron Posnik Auctioneers.
KEVIN GUTTING

The inventory, fixtures and equipment of the Mountain Goat outdoor gear and clothing store were put on the block Friday by auctioneer Paul Scheer, right, of Aaron Posnik Auctioneers. KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

On March 28, 2013, the bank holding the notes on the Mountain Goats, our retail stores, lost confidence in our ability to continue to pay our loans. We were told that the bank would lock the doors and claim all of its assets on April 1, 2013.

We were not allowed by the bank to have a going-out-of-business sale and were, in fact, not allowed to advertise that we were closing.

The Gazette caught wind of our closing and posted a several-line notice in that Saturday’s Gazette. On that Friday, March 29, we posted on Facebook that Saturday, March 30, 2013, would be the Mountain Goat’s last day. We had no other way to let our valued customers know about what was happening with the restrictions and time frame that we were given.

It is important to us to note that there is no question on our part that the bank was acting in the most responsible manner to protect its fiduciary accountability. The bank was the best partner that we could have hoped for during our time running the Goat. We have the utmost respect and appreciation for the support and commitment they gave to us in helping the Goat be the best business it could be.

In the end, the economic crash of 2008, opening a second Mountain Goat in Hanover, N.H., in the fall of 2008, our Internet competition and the increased competition with the Valley’s outdoor retailers vying for the same dollars was our “perfect storm.”

The closing of our business forced the sale of the 189 Main St. building in Northampton that housed the Goat. There was not enough equity in the building’s sale to cover our loans with the bank, which forced us to declare personal bankruptcy.

Why are we writing this?

We wanted our community to have a better understanding of what really happened after we closed the Goat.

Many folks that we have run into since the closing have no idea that we had to declare bankruptcy. It was not in the paper.

How would they know? When the building that housed the Goat was sold, it appeared like we were walking away with a nice retirement sum.

Now, when people ask us, “How does it feels to be retired?” Or, “Are you enjoying traveling around the world,” we tell them our truth.

Our personal connections and our trips downtown have fallen off dramatically this past year so we thought this would be a good time to set our story straight.

Has it been a challenging year? Of course it has. We had to tell our beloved staff they no longer had jobs, we had to close our doors without being able to let our valued and long-time customers know why and we had to tell our vendors and long-time community suppliers and advertisers that we could no longer pay our bills.

The last thing we ever wanted to happen was to not be able to live up to our commitments and obligations. We want to extend and hope you will accept our most sincere apology if our closing impacted you in any adverse way.

Finally to all of you — family, friends and professionals who have helped us move through this past year — we cannot say thank you enough. Without your wise counsel, supportive friendships and strong shoulders we could not have made it intact.

The Mountain Goat had a great run. It was our great privilege and our pleasure to be a part of such a wonderfully vibrant community for 24 years.

A.J. LaFleur and Mary P. Colwell are the former owners of the Mountain Goat stores.

Small business is not for the faint of heart, and AJ and Mary leave big shoes to fill. Thank you for your years and years of hard work. I still can't walk past the Goat without feeling a twinge... you are missed.

Mountain Goat was truly a great store and asset to the Western MA community. It is loss of stores like this on American Main streets that will sadly make small town shopping obsolete.

Putting a gag order on the owners seems to be wrong on a moral level. I appreciate this explanation, and I do miss the Mt. Goat.

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