LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 10:  Customers carry bags from  Bed Bath & Beyond store on April 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The home goods retailer is expected to release fourth-quarter earnings figures after the closing bell.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Watch: How did Bed, Bath & Beyond get here?
00:58 - Source: CNN Business

Editor’s note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” Follow him @DeanObeidallah@masto.ai. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN) — A retail chain going out of business should not evoke an emotional response — unless that chain was one that helped fill the soundtrack of our lives. For many, including myself, Bed Bath & Beyond was just that.

Dean Obeidallah

Learning that the chain had filed for bankruptcy on Sunday and would be shuttering for good made me — and I imagine others — reflect on how the chain and, of course, its blue and white, 20%-off coupons played a role in our lives.

Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Sue Gove put it well in a statement Sunday when announcing the end of the line for the company: “Millions of customers have trusted us through the most important milestones in their lives — from going to college to getting married, settling into a new home to having a baby.” For countless Americans, Bed Bath & Beyond was there at those key moments.

The chain started with one store in New Jersey — where all good things begin — in 1971 by founders Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein. That first store was named Bed ‘n Bath, but as it grew, the name changed in 1987 to Bed Bath & Beyond. At its peak in 2018, Bed Bath & Beyond had expanded to more than 1,500 stores in North America.

Bed Bath & Beyond seemed to be everywhere — as did its 20%-off coupons that were like a currency of their own. Before emails sent these coupons, you had to obtain them at the store or via mail. And when you did, it was time to shop.

The Bed Bath & Beyond superstores sold just about everything. You could buy scented candles on the first floor, wall art on the second floor and odd little tchotchkes in the clearance section on the lower level (depending on the layout of the store near you.) If Bed Bath & Beyond didn’t have it, then you didn’t need it!

Living in Manhattan for almost 20 years, I became a regular at the nearby store — almost like a Bed Bath & Beyond version of Norm from “Cheers.” That store helped me make the transition to three different living spaces.

There are still curtains hanging over my windows, a salad bowl used daily and numerous other items that came from treks to the local store. And on countless Black Fridays, I was at the store at 7 a.m. when it opened, offering extra savings. I would stock up on enough deodorant and face soap to last hopefully to the following Black Friday.

There’s something else about the closing of Bed Bath & Beyond. Given its 50-plus-year existence, the chain likely conjures up memories of shopping with loved ones we have since lost.

I was bummed when Tower Records closed in the mid-2000s, but it was not a store I would go to with my late father. But Bed Bath & Beyond was such a store since there was one in my hometown in New Jersey. And with its closing come memories of shopping there with him or for him — such as buying a practical dad-type birthday gift.

The older we get the more the closing of certain places trigger these bittersweet memories. It could be a local restaurant your family gathered at for holidays or a professional sports stadium that you went to with a parent that was torn down and replaced by a corporate-sponsored one.

However, my mourning for Bed Bath & Beyond came sooner than this weekend since my neighborhood store closed in December 2020 as hard times started hitting the chain. Soon, though, that disappointment was offset by the daily nonstop emails from the retail chain offering online the 20%-off coupon once only obtainable in person.

Yet the bad news for Bed Bath & Beyond only got worse over the next few years as consumers started increasingly using Amazon and other online platforms. Finally, on Sunday morning those emails I received that bore a subject line of “Open for your 20% coupon!” or “Up to 50% off” had been replaced with one that read, “Important Update from Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.”

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That heralded the unfortunate news that “earlier today, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. filed for voluntary Chapter 11 protection” and an explanation that the chain would be closing.

For those seeking to use their 20%-off coupon one — or two — last times, you have until Tuesday per Bed Bath & Beyond. (I made a purchase Sunday morning using my coupon.) In time, Bed Bath & Beyond will simply be a memory like other well-known and now shuttered chains — from Blockbuster to Sharper Image. But the memories of the way Bed Bath & Beyond helped fill our lives — and literally our homes — will long remain.