Without adieu, Gary Siok, president of Bergen Home Fitness and one of two founding brothers, closed all five Bergen stores in late October 2006, and then followed that by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in late December.
A creditors meeting was scheduled for Jan. 12, with the last filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, New Jersey, on Jan. 9 including financial statements. Those papers following the Dec. 18 original court filing declared $200,000 in assets that were exclusively in "inventory of fitness equipment at various locations" and liabilities of $448,404.62.
Primary brands carried at the time of the closing included Precor, Vision, Body-Solid, Bodyguard, Fitness Master, Cap, Everlast and PowerBlock. Creditors included most of the above, with amounts owed Precor and PaceMaster listed as "unknown" on the court documents obtained by SNEWS®, while Vision was noted as being owed $67,732 and Fitness Master was owed $16,268. PowerBlock was owed $6,446. In addition, the papers listed gross sales between January and September 2006 as $1.7 million.
"It was sad to see Bergen go out and bad for us since we probably won't be getting any thing back money-wise," Ed Banasky of Fitness Master told SNEWS®. "It was a chance we took that did not work out."
The small chain, with retail stores only in Bergen County, N.J., originally opened in October 1985 and was among the first small retail fitness chains in the country. Bergen Home Fitness, which celebrated two decades in business exactly a year before it shuttered, was founded by brothers Gary and Andy Siok. Gary bought out Andy in early 2005. Long-time general manager Chris Iannotta, who left in late June 2006, is now working in sales for former Bergen vendor PaceMaster.
The five stores closed included ones in Englewood, Millburn, Paramus, Ramsey and Fairfield, N.J., all of which were shut in one action. The original Elmwood Park main store had been closed in December 2005 soon after the Paramus location was opened.
Gary Siok could not be reached for comment.
SNEWS® View: We learned that other area stores edging in on Bergen's territory lent partly to Bergen's ultimate demise. Certainly, Gary understood promotion since we know he did regional and local advertising when the business first opened back in the late '80s. Although the company seemingly lost its focus into 2006, the closing wasn't exactly announced. In fact, SNEWS® got emails from industry vendors and others in early January inquiring what was up when Bergen Home Fitness seemingly had just gone "poof" -- no website, telephones disconnected, emails bouncing back. No, it didn't go "poof," but Bergen Home Fitness did come to a rather abrupt halt without a lot of warning to vendors, customers or employees. It's sad to see a two-decades-old regional player come to this, although we're sure others, including Leisure Fitness and Omni Fitness, won't waste any time moving into the gaps left behind.