Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of toy giant Hasbro, has announced that it will be closing its chain of retail stores, including both the Wizards of the Coast stores and the affiliated The Game Keeper stores.  WotC has retained the Gordon Brothers Group of Boston to assist in the closures, which will be completed within 60 days. 


WotC has been closing stores throughout the year (see 'Hasbro Continues to Close Game Stores' and 'Hasbro Closes Four More Game Stores') in an effort to staunch the financial bleeding.  The WotC stores lost $10 million in 2000, and a whopping $36 million in 2001 (including a $16 million impairment charge) and $20 million in 2002.  In 2003 losses from the stores declined to $3.1 million in the second quarter (versus $5.8 million in Q2 2002) and $3.6 million in the third (down from $6.1 million in Q3 2002). 


The elimination of the WotC stores marks the end of an experiment in vertical retailing.  Flush with the success of its Magic the Gathering and Pokemon Collectible Card Games, WotC put together a retail empire, which included 100 stores by the turn of the century.  WotC had reduced the number of its stores to 85 at the end of 2001 and to 80 by April of this year.  Although rumors of an impending sale of the chain circulated periodically, none ever occurred, presumably because no buyer could be found.