Modell's Sporting Goods has become the latest retailer to declare bankruptcy and close down all its stores.

Modell's closed 19 stores in February, including three in New Jersey, in an attempt to save the chain, which opened its first store in 1889 in New York City. Fourth-generation CEO Mitchell Modell at the time said he would do "whatever it takes to save these stores and protect the communities that we have served and loved for generations."

He also made a minority stake in the company available and tried renegotiating store leases.

It apparently wasn't enough, and the chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we evaluated several options to restructure our business to allow us to maintain our current operations. While we achieved some success, in partnership with our landlords and vendors, it was not enough to avoid a bankruptcy filing amid an extremely challenging environment for retailers,” Modell's said in a statement.

A liquidation sale at the chain's remaining stores begins Friday. Signs indicating "everything on sale" went up at the store's Monmouth Mall location on Tuesday, although none of the signs indicated closure was imminent. Modell's still had 30 stores open in New Jersey.

Modell called the filing "one of the most difficult days of my life" in a statement and thanked employees and customers for their support.

Modell's joins a long list of other iconic retailers that have filed for Chapter 11 reorganization or liquidated in recent years, including Payless ShoeSource Corp., Toys R Us and children's chain Gymboree.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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