Idaho-based Honk's pushes through bankruptcy, now has 6 stores

adutton@idahostatesman.comMarch 11, 2014 

Darrell Cox and his wife Sharolyn started a dollar-store chain named Honk's in 1989. Twenty-five years and a bankruptcy later, the company is hanging on with three local stores.

"It's a tough go," Cox said. "It's going to take a while, and we're just hopeful to open a store now and then, and our hope is to bring them back into this area."

Honk's $1.00 filed for bankruptcy in January 2013, reporting it was $4.2 million in debt. The company had $1.7 million in assets at the time, and it was late on rent, sales tax and some vacation pay to employees. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allowed the business to reorganize without being sued by creditors.

Honk's closed three stores in Idaho, four in Utah and one in Oregon. The company moved its store from the southern edge of Downtown Nampa to a smaller location near WinCo on Caldwell Boulevard, closed and then reopened a store on Overland Road in Boise, and kept its Caldwell store open.

All told, Honk's now has six locations and between 40 and 45 employees, Cox said.

"At one time, we had 27 stores," he said. "It was great for 10 years and just gradually started to decline for us."

The problem wasn't that Honk's had lost customers, Cox said. It was that customers walked into the store expecting to pay $1 for everything — be it a 56-ounce bottle of mouthwash or a 48-ounce container of detergent. That was good and bad, Cox said. It gave Honk's some loyal customers but led to vanishing profit margins as the company tried to keep prices at $1 despite inflation and high fuel costs.

Honk's now prices some items above $1. But thousands of items still have the $1 price tag, he said.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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