Bankruptcy And Auction For Chapel Hill's Southern Season

Aug 19, 2016

The 'Southern Season' flagship store is in Chapel Hill, NC at University Place mall. It is a 60,000 square foot anchor store.
Credit Leoneda Inge / WUNC

Chapel Hill-based gourmet food retailer Southern Season was auctioned off today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Greensboro, before Judge Benjamin Kahn. 

Calvert Retail of Delaware acquired specific assets of Southern Season stores for $3.5 million.  The acquisition includes all of Southern Season's intellectual property, its website and the Chapel Hill store.

Calvert Retail currently has Kitchen & Company and Reading China & Glass stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, South Carolina and North Carolina.

"It was only two weeks ago that our company understood the sale was possible," said Calvert Retail Owner Eric Brinsfield, in a written statement. "Right now, we are looking forward to learning and understanding everything that makes Southern Season so special in this market."

Southern Season worked hard to be the South's premier destination for gourmet and specialty food, gifts and cookware. The flagship, 60,000-square-foot emporium in Chapel Hill was the perfect playground for area foodies. An online video boasts more than 5,000 exceptional wines and 283 unique hot sauces.

Bankruptcy court filings show Southern Season with $9.8 million dollars in assets and more than double that in liabilities – and vendors want their money. Southern Season filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy back in June, vowing to maintain its staff and focus on its smaller "Taste of Southern Season" stores and online business. Southern Season owners said they had hoped to come out of bankruptcy proceedings by December 2016.

Besides the Chapel Hill store, there are smaller "Taste of Southern Season" stores in Raleigh, Charleston and a newly opened 2,000-square foot shop in Asheville's popular Biltmore Village. Calvert Retail said in a statement it will shut down these stores as part of the sale.

Brinsfiled said, there are no immediate plans for making changes at the Chapel Hill location because, "the store is profitable and successful, so we want to build on that foundation."

Stores in Richmond, Virginia and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina have already closed.

Southern Season was founded in 1975 by Michael Barefoot and has won several awards and hosted many celebrity chefs over the years. It has had the distinction of being selected as one of the Top 25 Best Independent Stores in America. Southern Season was purchased in 2011 by TC Capital.