20 Brands & Products that Died in 2009

2009 is 50% over, but has already left a decade’s worth of brand carnage in its wake. In May alone, 376 companies per day sought protection from creditors in bankruptcy court, according to Aacer’s court records.

Everyone was affected, from small, family-run outfits to major corporations. This list represents a sampling of brands and products that died in 2009. You may be familiar with some of the brands. Others are smaller or regional, but symbolize the story of what happened many other businesses this year. Even a Wal-Mart generic brand got the shaft.

It’s worth noting that when a brand dies, it doesn’t necessarily get buried, the way humans do. Some brands, like Circuit City, are resurrected in a different form. Others, like Saab, go dormant, then reemerge in a new form. Still others find themselves gobbled up by bigger fish.

The brands and products in this list reflect all possibilities. Sadly, most are gone forever.

Sterling trucks


Sterling Trucks, originally Ford’s heavy truck division, was declared a goner by Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) in March 2009. The brand encompassed a range of heavy trucks and tractors, including snow plows, garbage trucks, landscaping, and other vocational vehicles. With Sterling gone, DTNA will focus its strategy on its other two heavy truck brands, Western Star and Freightliner.

Circuit City


Circuit City liquidated in 2009, after 50 years of operation. According to the company’s now-defunct investors page, more than 30,000 employees were laid off. Hardware company Systemax purchased the Circuit City brand in May, which it now uses at circuitcity.com, an online version of the old retailer.

Home Depot Expo


Home Depot’s yupperific counterpart closed its doors in April 2009, shedding 34 stores and 7,000 employees. Home Depot admitted in a statement that Expo hadn’t even performed well during the housing boom. Now home flippers will have to settle for plain old Home Depot, the way they always did.

Max Factor


Proctor & Gamble announced in June that Max Factor will be pulled from American shelves by early 2010, according to TradingMarkets. The company will put its resources into the Cover Girl brand. Max Factor will continue to be sold abroad, where it continues to be a fast-growing brand.

White Cloud Diapers


This cheaper alternative to Huggies, Luvs and Pampers, was discontinued in spring 2009. Many mothers grieved the loss of the brand, which was sold exclusively at Wal-Mart.

MSN Encarta


When Microsoft launched Encarta in 1993, the multimedia encyclopedia was a revolutionary concept. Encarta integrated Funk & Wagnall’s, Collier’s, and the New Merit Scholar’s encyclopedias into its 62,000+ article collection. As of October 31, 2009, Encarta will cease to exist. Wikimedia’s Jimmy Wales has approached Microsoft about picking up some of Encarta’s information for free.

Monson Trucking


Duluth, MN-based Monson Trucking will be closing its doors on August 31. The family-owned business had been in operation for 94 years before two of its biggest customers declared bankruptcy, forcing Monson out of business, too. The company was run by four generations of the Monson family. (From the Journal of Commerce.)

Mac Homepage, Groups


Apple launched HomePage with iTools in 2001. July 7 marked the date when you could no longer edit or create new pages. iWeb, which publishes websites and blogs, will replace Homepage. .Mac Groups, on the other hand, will be taken offline on July 7. MobileMe members will have access to their archives, but all group HomePages, message boards, group email addresses, and iDisk Groups will be removed.



Pontiac, creator of the fabled Bonneville and GTO, will be phased out forever in 2010. GM announced the sad news on April 27, 2009, burying Pontiac on a plot in its ever-expanding brand graveyard.

iPhone bluetooth headset


In April 2009, Apple removed its iPhone Bluetooth Headset from the Apple Store for undisclosed reasons. The Apple Insider speculates that the company will either release an improved, iPhone 3.0-compatible version sometime in the future, or it is backing out from the accessory business entirely. Time will tell.



Kodak retired Kodachrome one year before the product’s 75th anniversary. 70% of Kodak’s business revolves around digital products, according to a company statement referenced in the LA Times. This leaves no place for Kodachrome, which is nonetheless forever immortalized in the Paul Simon song.

Rocky Mountain News


The Rocky Mountain News was one of many newspapers whose future was shredded in 2009. Its story represents a universal newspaper story. In February 2009, one of Denver’s two newspapers published its last edition. Owner Scripps Howard News Service said that even if the newspaper went online-only and revenues grew at 40% per year for five years, “they would still be equal to the cost of one newsroom today,” according to a RMN article. The paper was 150 years old. Scripps owned the paper since 1926. It lost $16 million in 2008 alone.



Chengdu’s Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company scooped up GM’s Hummer brand for less than $500 million (estimated) this June, according to the New York Times. The Chinese company plans to sell more fuel-efficient versions of the trucks, says the Times.



Tennessee-based Goody’s closed 287 stores in April 2009, four months after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, writes Alibaba. The company had managed to reorganize after filing for bankruptcy last June, closing underperforming stores, cutting operating costs, and terminating its e-commerce business. But a poor holiday season and slow retail environment killed the company, which had been around since 1950.

Factor 5


22-year-old video game developer Factor 5 shuttered after Brash Entertainment, its main customer, closed its doors in spring 2009. Factor 5 was behind the Commodore 64’s Turrican, if you can remember that far back. Other games include Lair for PS3, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron I/II/III for Nintendo 64/GameCube, and a series of Atari, Amiga, GameBoy, and Super Nintendo games.



In 2006, BearingPoint was one of Fortune’s “Most Admired” IT services companies. Just three years later, the company sold off its North American Public Businesses unit to Deloitte and its Global Practices and Commercial Services businesses to PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Predictably, you won’t be seeing the BearingPoint name on the PGA tour anymore, either.

Hard Rock Boulevard


This is the story of rebranding a street. When Myrtle Beach, SC-based Hard Rock Park, a Hard Rock café-themed park featuring six “rock environs” with names like British Invasion and Lost in the ‘70s, folded in mid-2008, its new owners figured a little rebranding might keep it alive. In mid-2009, the park was reborn as Freestyle Music Park. Unfortunately, the new name did nothing to boost the flopped park’s reputation, reports the Wall Street Journal. Now, the owners want to rename the road it’s located on—Hard Rock Boulevard–as Fantasy Harbour Boulevard. Only time will tell if the new street name removes the music park’s scourge of failure.

Agape World


Ponzi schemes have brands, too. Agape World, listed as #73 on last year’s Entrepreneur Hot 100 Fastest-Growing Businesses in America, cheated investors out of $380 million through a commercial bridge lending scheme, writes the Wall Street Journal. Founder Nicholas Cosmo now sits in jail on fraud charges, while investors are agape at Entrepreneur for unwittingly promoting a Ponzi scheme.



Founded in 1904 as a dry goods store, Gottschalks expanded to become one of the largest department store chains in the country. The store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, then starting liquidating at the end of March 2009.

The Openmoko FreeRunner


Note: As readers have pointed out, the Linux Smartphone is alive and well. #20 refers exclusively to the Openmoko Neo FreeRunner, which is a unique case. See comments for more information.

The Openmoko Neo FreeRunner, the first Linux smartphone, lasted a mere 10 months before being discontinued. The device was supposed to be the world’s first open-source hardware and software smartphone, according to Heise. Creator Openmoko pulled the phone amidst heavy staff cuts. They are now working on a new device; however, it’s not a smartphone.

  • Some pretty big names, hopefully new names will fill the void and will be able to do so to the advantage of the consumer and environment.

  • Ted

    No mention of Woolworths?

  • Goody’s has been bought out by Specialty Retailers (Bealls, STAGE, etc) and will be relaunching very soon.

  • ghnfghnq

    iPhone bluetooth headset? Really?

    Fuck. This recession has to stop! Where else will I get a hands-free headset for my phone? Oh, there are plenty of others? And the article even says that it didn’t really die?

    Come on guys. We;re not talking about a flagship product here. We’re talking about a sub-par headset that nobody actually bought.

  • ryan

    Who the shit cares about the iphone headset?

  • Metal head

    Man, I wish I would have known about the Hard Rock Heaven Amusement Park… Sounds Cool.

  • brim

    And do you know why? they forgot about the people. they could of innovate with the time they had and chose to run with archaic business models that were dying in the ninety’s. circuit city? lol, overpriced always. they could of changed there business in a week and saved millions, but instead of trying to work to save a company, they stuck there money in there pocket and walked away.
    when company’s fail there’s always a reason, its just like a marriage or friendship.
    i am kinda happy thou cause it gives room for the people that want to innovate. lol. idiots
    already forgotten “yawn”

  • Mike

    Palm Pre is a Linux smartphone!

  • Shimmy

    Ye where is woolworths

    ohh ye this is another North American only article

  • Linux Smartphone died? Newsflash to the editors, but every Google Android phone is running Linux.

  • Jackie

    Some of these, like HomePage, aren’t even truly “gone”: they’re fazed-out by newer products from the same damn company.

  • Great Research !

    Though this all was painful but it does reinstate the ideology of change. From small brands to big names this list had it all. I suggest we should even have a section mentioning the biggest reason of the failure and how that could have been avoided.

    Keep up the good work….

  • Cbo

    Openmoko was never a brand/commercial product. It was/is a research platform. The fact that FICA decided to manufacture and sell, basically at cost for such small scale production. Is just a bonus.

    Basically, they were ahead of Google, Palm, and many other more capable, better funded projects. In fact, I believe you could run Android on the Freerunner.
    Like Android Openmoko is not a specific device, but a standard that others can build upon. At least one product was spawned from the Openmoko:

    Open hardware is alive and well, both as a concept, and as a physical product. VIA’s netbook platforms are used in various third-world netbooks.
    Also, the Linux smartphone is alive and well in various forms. Mostly google-spawned. See HTC/Touch/Dream/G1/G2 and most of Motorola’s new lineup. Not to mention, umm the Palm Pre? http://www.palm.com

  • john Berman

    linens n things?

  • Aww poorly managed and badly run companies went bust. What a shame. It is the glorious reality of a recession that poorly performing companies go out of business. That is GOOD for the economy as it strengthens the economy as a whole.

  • dude

    michael jackson

  • Nuria
  • Kage

    What, no Mother’s Cookies?

    That was the biggest travesty of the year.

    Bar none.

    No more delicious taffy cookies or those frosted animal crackers.

  • Jimbo

    Last item is very misleading. Linux Smartphone is not dead… After all, Google’s Android is also based on Linux.

  • Berkana

    What about Mervyn’s? What about Elephant Pharmacy?

  • It’s hard to believe that they are gone. When I think about Pontiac I think of the classic GTO as well as the Bonnevile. They were well engineered and well built too. It’s a shame that the management/marketing didn’t get the handle on the pulse of the market in budget.

    Each of those companies left a mark that with proper case studies could assist businesses to better learn how to promote, manage, and plan. Additionally the antithesis would be the avoidance of key promotional strategies particuarly the timing of them. The management on some of the companies were forced into the position because of failures which were beyond their control as in the trucking company and the video game company.

    I still remember one of my experiences where I had most of my eggs in one basket and it created a failure so I can empathize with them, though it was on a much lower scale.

    These bring back memories, stir emotions, and hopefully will cause people to re-evaluate their business plans, challenge everything they have setup, examine and broaden the customer base with more smaller accounts, and find more ways to be competetive as well as a tweeked Universal selling proposal.

    My Two Cents
    @JRStratford on twitter

  • Didn’t realize anyone even bothered to use Encarta anymore these days. Thought it was already dead, to be honest. Kinda bummed about Pontiac, though…

  • Colorado

    I hear Micheal Jackson went out of business this year as well.

  • Wow, when you see some of them listed out, it puts the whole year in perspective. Many of the ones you listed were pretty established (or at least around for a long time). I wonder what brands will spring up as a result of the economic times (if any).

  • Gottschalks went out of business? Where is my grandma going to buy my Christmas presents now?!

    Good riddance Hummer

  • Naramartian

    Good riddance to bad brands – law of the jungle

  • Sean

    How about Filene’s Basement?

  • lol! It’s funny and surprising that all these, (some of them long-standing and memorable) just went away like that!

    TOo bad I won’t be seeing Hummers anymore! I love those machines! :(

  • Sad really…hopefully, there’ll be a spring to replenish the empty well.

  • Jim

    It would be interesting to see how the list of dead brand names in 2009 compares to the list of dead brand names from boom years. I don’t think it will be all that different. Brand names come and go all the time.

  • I find it really interesting when people nonchalantly remark about companies who go out of business being poorly run. I find myself wondering if the person understands how much effort it takes to create, build and run a company – good, bad, or average. It is a formidable task. Many companies going out of business are being impacted by markets that are no longer performing like housing and American cars. Every company that we lose weakens our economy by leaving employees with no jobs, families with less income, communities with less spending power, and investors with less money to invest in new companies. To last in business for as many years as some of these examples is admirable – regardless of the circumstances.

  • Nat

    its the biggest depression of our generation.

  • Matt

    What I find amusing, albeit frustrating, is how the Government can GIVE AWAY triilions of Dollars to companies and not force them to comply with business ethics. There are no ethics left in business today, hence the gross failure in our economy. “Screw them for all they have, because they won’t come back to us later” has been the quid pro quo at almost every one of the targets for bail-out. How many of you are in Loan modification? How many of you were approved by WAMU only to be declined later? It’s a conspiracy, no matter how you slice it. We live in the instant gratification age…get all you can now, and businesses are self-emolatting because of it. Better stockpile food while you can. Soon it will be too late.

  • And none will really be missed, by me anyway. Except for maybe Pontiac, which I suspect we’ll resurrected in one form or another.

  • Wilson

    Re Woolworth’s, they also operated abroad, have been to them in Germany, where last I saw one I go by in Nurnberg was still open within the last month. Although the legal relationship is unclear, I know some Woolworths are unrelated, but the Germany Woolworths has the same lettering in its name, so suspect it at least spun off from the American one.

  • Here’s another one: Carte Blanche, right? Except that Citicorp tried to revive it in 2000 as part of its Diners Club card family, to try to compete w/AmEx Platinum Card. (How has that worked out?)

  • I think Circuit City is still up. I thought I read somewhere that it went down too…

    In Canada there were stores called “the source by circuit city”.

    The wiki says that they are still running.