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Entertainment Products 2

The six-week saga surrounding Entertainment Publications and the future of its Entertainment Coupon Books is now reaching a happy conclusion. The bankrupt company has been sold at auction to a group led by the son of the company’s founders, bringing to a close the uncertainty about the company’s future and the validity of its coupons.

Lowell Potiker of HSP-EPI Acquisition LLC put in a winning bid of $17,550,000, at an auction of the company’s assets on Friday (up from his initial bid of $11.3 million). A court approved the sale yesterday, and the transaction is expected to close today, marking the company’s official return to business.

It’s a surprising turnaround for a company that appeared dead in the water not too long ago. You may recall that Entertainment Publications abruptly went under last month, turning away employees as they arrived to work, shutting down operations and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (read: “Entertainment Coupon Book Bankruptcy: The Fallout”). Unlike Chapter 11, which allows a bankrupt company to restructure and stay in business, Chapter 7 essentially means the owners are throwing in the towel, leaving customers and creditors in the lurch.

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The 50-year-old company is well-known for producing phone book-sized annual collections of coupons for local businesses, restaurants and entertainment destinations. The books are sold online and in stores, but are perhaps best known for their role in annual fundraisers for various schools and organizations. Entertainment’s sudden bankruptcy left many with unsold books, and questions about whether the coupons in existing books would be honored.

Potiker chose not to sit idly by, watching the demise of the company that his parents founded in 1962. He put in a bid for the bankrupt company, aiming to revive it. A bankruptcy judge allowed a trustee to reopen the company pending a sale (read: “Entertainment Coupon Book: Back From the Dead”). Others were invited to bid, but Potiker made the winning offer (albeit an offer that was some 50% larger than his original one).

One other bidder was SaveAround, a competing business that also offers local coupon books. And when word of Entertainment’s bankruptcy first emerged, the competitor couldn’t help but rub it in a little, criticizing the direction Entertainment had taken in recent years away from fundraising efforts “toward direct to consumer sales, mobile sales, and private label content.” “It’s unfortunate to hear about the hundreds of jobs lost, fundraising contracts that might go unfulfilled, and the uncertainty of customers, but with any change does come opportunity,” SaveAround said in a statement. “With Entertainment’s sudden closure, SaveAround became the nation’s leader in the coupon book industry.”

That may no longer be the case – but then Entertainment has some ground to make up. Many who have not been following the case closely, are unclear about the company’s status and may be wary about doing business with a company that’s perceived to be in trouble. Plus, many current and former customers reacted to news of the company’s bankruptcy last month with a shrug – saying it was too bad, but the company’s coupon offers weren’t as good as they used to be, so it was no big loss.

Company founders Hughes and Sheila Potiker sold their business in 1992, and watched as it changed hands several times afterwards. They had passed away by the time the company went into a downward spiral that led to its bankruptcy. Their son’s challenge will be to return the business to its former glory – preserving the family legacy, by preventing it from becoming a memory.

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: $5.99 Entertainment Coupon Books - Bargains to Bounty

  2. Manning2Luck says:

    I have purchased books, and most years multiple books in my area and others, for myself, family members and friends, etc, and these books have gone from Great to the book this year as 75% junk for your $. For the 1st time in all those years, I actually sent a comment to the company and of course heard nothing in return. I’d rather you at least answer me and agree to disagree, than just disregard constructive criticism. I had not been following their problems until now, but now it all makes sense. Sad.

  3. Coupon clipper says:

    How about placing blame on the company that is truly to blame? Menards took a personal problem and created a lot of panic and heartache for the Entertainment employees. Menards is the company you should be boycotting and if you must bad mouthing.

    • As an insider, the management of Entertainment is to blame for this mess. The employees were woefully misinformed on many levels. They were told conflicting stories, held hostage by non-compete agreements, and not paid what they were owed. It’s Entertainment’s management fault, not Menards.

  4. Sure they are back. But what about all the ex-employees who got screwed out of all their commissions (thousands of dollars in so many cases!!). And they locked up their 401k’s in court. Not to mention back pay they will never see. The executives are a bunch of lying businessmen and women. I wouldn’t touch their product if they gave it away. I hope all the consumers out there know the real story of what they did to their employees.

  5. Pingback: Entertainment Coupon Book Belly Up - Page 3 - FlyerTalk Forums

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