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Babygear.com Shuts Down

Discount baby goods e-tailer Babygear.com has shut down operations and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning it plans to liquidate its assets.

According to court documents (available at http://ecf.nysb.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/DocketSheet.pl?0-15700), Babygear.com owes creditors holding unsecured nonpriority claims just under $11 million. The company's total assets are listed at $2.8 million.

"We regret to inform you that the Babygear.com web site has closed and is no longer available," a notice says on its Web site.

"Babygear.com has filed for bankruptcy - Chapter 7 Liquidation. They are unable to take orders, ship orders or issue credits. Any further matters will be handled by the court. Please contact Babygear.com at research@babygear.com, regarding any additional questions you may have."

Interestingly, the site advises customers left hanging to contact their credit card companies directly to dispute charges. The site continues to post links referring customers to iMaternity and BabyAge.com, two partners affiliated with the retailer.

Debra Cohen, an attorney for Marilyn Simon and Associates who is representing Babygear.com, could not be reached for comment. But the court records divulge several interesting facts about the company.

Currently, two cases are pending against Babygear.com. Advertising giant DoubleClick filed a suit against Babygear.com to recover unpaid fees for services rendered. And Internatioanl Fulfillment Services, Inc., Joseph Sarcona Jr. and Michael Sarcona are also suing the company for "among other things, misappropriation, theft, and negligence regarding the debtor's (Babygear's) inventory." Babygear.com is countersuing claiming there are "accrued and unpaid charges for (use of a) warehouse."

There was evidence several months ago that the online baby products seller was in trouble.

In November, Babygear.com's chief operating officer Joel Feigenbaum left the company to take a job with the Reader's Digest's Books Are Fun, Ltd., a display marketer of books and gifts. But, Babygear was backed by women's entertainment site iVillage, which sold its iBaby e-commerce division to the company in July and took an undisclosed equity stake.

The company also had $30 million in funding from investors including media giant Bertelsmann's Gruner and Jahr publishing unit and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

Babygear.com's CEO, Preston Bealle could not be reached for comment.