Gart Capital Buys Retailer Swoozie’s

Gart Capital Partners has acquired Swoozie’s Inc., an Atlanta-based specialty retailer focused on stationary, greeting cards, and personalized products. No financial terms were disclosed.


Gart Capital Partners (GCP), a private equity investment partnership located in Denver, Colorado that invests in closely-held and family-owned retail and consumer businesses, announced today the purchase of the remaining assets of Swoozie’s, Inc., an Atlanta-based specialty retailer. Price of the acquisition was not disclosed. The upscale chain of stores co-founded by Kelly Plank-Dworkin specializes in unique gifts, stationery, invitations, greeting cards, and personalized products that celebrate significant life events. Swoozie’s, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2010. The newly formed company of Gart Capital Partners and Plank-Dworkin plans to begin re-opening up to eight stores in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and potentially Denver by late summer. The new team also plans to have their online retail operations re-activated in the next few weeks to meet the needs of loyal customers in markets where stores closed following the bankruptcy.

The first Swoozie’s store was opened in Atlanta in 2001 by Plank-Dworkin and her late husband, David Dworkin, a former CEO of Neiman-Marcus. A series of events including the death in 2007 of co-founder and owner Dworkin who had managed operations for the specialty stores and the plunging economy led to the bankruptcy filing.

Gart Capital Partners has decades of experience in collaborating with a variety of specialty retailers to strengthen and solidify their businesses. Current GCP investments include Colorado Bag n Baggage, a chain of 30 stores featuring luxury luggage, briefcases, and purses; and Golf TEC, the leader in golf improvement with 145 stores in 27 states. Recently, GCP sold their remaining interest in Specialty Sports Venture, a collection of 135 ski retail and rental shops, to Vail Resorts. GCP continues to pursue new partnership opportunities in specialty retailing.

The new partnership will combine and leverage the specialty retail, finance, and real estate background of GCP with the retail niche expertise of co-founder Plank-Dworkin who has decades of experience as a successful retail buyer and merchandiser.

“We reached out to our customers, and they created a spark that has fueled the revitalization of Swoozie’s,” said Plank-Dworkin. “Now we have this amazing opportunity to continue our journey with our loyal customers through births, birthdays, graduations, and weddings with the expertise of Gart Capital Partners. I look forward to the future and rebuilding Swoozie’s alongside such a respected organization.”

“One of the most compelling aspects of Swoozie’s is their extraordinary customer loyalty and employee commitment,” said Ken Gart, managing partner of Gart Capital Partners. “For nearly a decade, they proved that they have a strong understanding of this specific retail niche and excelled at delivering fresh and innovative products to their customers and we believe that our company can help them re-establish and strengthen their position. Our plan is to create a solid base of revitalized stores this fall and then begin a significant retail expansion in 2011,” he added.