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First, the coupons disappeared. Then, in recent weeks, Mambo Sprouts fans began to notice that the company’s entire website had disappeared.

If you’re wondering what’s become of the 22-year-old marketing company devoted to healthy living and saving money – it’s now out of business altogether, bankrupt and seeking to erase nearly a million dollars in debt.

Court documents show that Mambo Sprouts filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy back on November 28th. While Chapter 11 is the type of bankruptcy in which companies try to reorganize and restructure their debt, Chapter 7 typically ends with a company’s liquidation, and most debts end up going unpaid.

Soon after the bankruptcy filing, Mambo Sprouts’ website was replaced with a stark notice announcing that “this account has been suspended”. And emails to the company received an autoreply stating that “Mambo Sprouts has wound down operations ahead of our anticipated end of December timeframe… We are grateful for all of the opportunities provided by our numerous and varied partners. Thank you for all the support throughout the years.”

So unless someone buys the Mambo Sprouts name – one of the company’s few remaining assets – and tries to revive the site, don’t go looking for its return. It appears “Mambo Nation” is no more.

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That’s a much starker outcome than the company had initially predicted or hoped for. When printable coupons first vanished from the site last fall – the first outward sign of trouble – founder and CEO Matthew Saline said it was part of a decision to “wind down aspects of the business”. “The right time to wind down the Mambo Sprouts in-store and print-at-home coupon programs is by the end of 2018,” Saline told Coupons in the News.

But in-store and print-at-home coupons were only part of the business, which also included direct-mailed coupons through a partnership with Valpak, plus a website that offered recipes, healthy eating tips, a blog, emailed newsletters and a community of fans known as “Mambo Nation”. “We’re still evaluating how our direct mail, digital, social and online platforms will be utilized moving forward,” Saline said back in October. In the meantime, “the site is still going to be there,” he reassured fans. “We’re not going to go dark on people, we’re just going to slow it down.”

Just over a month later, though, that all changed with the bankruptcy filing, which paints a picture of a company in rather dire financial straits. Mambo Sprouts lists about $100,000 in assets, but more than $900,000 in debts. The smallest creditors, who are probably least likely to see any portion of the money they’re owed, include dozens of content creators who contributed to Mambo Sprouts’ blog. The largest creditors are commercial printing companies and many major names in the coupon industry, including Quotient Technology, Inmar, News America, Qples and You Technology. Given the amount of money each is owed, it appears they hadn’t been paid in full for many months as the company’s cash on hand dwindled.

The company’s revenue had declined over the past several years – this past year, it took in just about half of what it did last year. That conforms with what Saline said last fall about it being “a really challenging time” to do business, citing the rising cost of paper, the increasing popularity of digital coupons, and the change in people’s shopping habits, in brands’ marketing strategies and in retailers’ promotional plans.

Several former employees who were laid off last fall declined to comment at the time about their or the company’s situation. But many grumbled behind the scenes that Saline had run the company into the ground and was looking to leave his business partners high and dry, while enriching himself on the way to bankruptcy court. Court documents show that the CEO actually took a rather modest salary last year – a poke in the eye, perhaps, to employees who were abruptly terminated without severance and creditors who might have wanted a piece of that salary for themselves. But ultimately, it would hardly have been enough to make a dent in the company’s blossoming debt.

In the end, the unpaid creditors and the laid-off employees will be the ones hurt the most by Mambo Sprouts’ demise. It’s not quite as financially distressing for couponers and advocates of healthy eating who relied on the website, its coupon books and mailers to help them live well and save money. But it is the end of an era. Mambo Sprouts was founded “to make healthy living easy, fun, and accessible and affordable to everyone.” Now it appears that members of “Mambo Nation” will have to start seeking out their savings somewhere else.

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