Hastings Entertainment Inc., the multimedia entertainment retailing chain, which operates 126 stores that average 24,000 square feet, has agreed to a merger with two companies that are wholly-owned by Joel Weinshanker, who is also the President and sole stockholder of the National Entertainment and Collectibles Association, Inc., which owns WizKids Games.  Owners of Hastings stock are slated to receive $3 per share, a premium of 57.1% over Hastings’ closing share price on March 14, 2014.  The merger has been approved by the Hastings Board of Directors, though The Street is reporting that two law firms representing some Hastings stockholders are “investigating” the merger on the behalf of their clients.
Like many retailers, Hastings has been battered by recession and the relatively slow recovery, with sales falling in 2013 (see "Hastings Sales Slide Continues").  NECA has been a major supplier for Hastings, and Weinshanker reportedly already owned some 12% of Hastings stock.  Weinshanker, who built an empire in the collectibles market through relationships with the estates of Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, and Elvis Presley (Weinshanker’s company manages Graceland), will now have a direct retail outlet for NECA’s many collectible products, though since Hastings does not cover the entire country, NECA will still have to service other retailers selling games and collectibles.
If the merger, which is expected to close during Q2 of 2014, goes through as planned, NECA and WizKids will have access to a major chain of retail outlets that is particularly strong in the Southwest and lower Midwest.  How this will all play out remains to be seen, but many game retailers already deal with the vertically-integrated Games Workshop.