Marbles the Brain Store closing four Maryland locations in bankruptcy

Marbles the Brain Store is closing four Maryland locations.

Marbles the Brain Store is shutting down and holding closing sales at all stores, including four in Maryland.

The "smart toy" specialty retailer is closing at Mall in Columbia, Towson Town Center, Annapolis Mall, and National Harbor, in Oxon Hill.

The Chicago-based chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Feb. 3 and is closing its 37 stores. The company plans to liquidate all inventory while trying to sell intellectual property related to the e-commerce and wholesale businesses, Girisha Chandraraj, company CEO, said in a court filing.

She said the chain grew in popularity over the years but faced challenges such as declining mall traffic and weak sales, leading to lower-than-expected earnings during the holiday season.

The chain began as a kiosk in May 2008 and opened its first store in downtown Chicago later that year. Its website says it specialized in "brain games" to help older people with memory loss, children with ADHD and others who want to improve focus and attention.

The chain is among more than a dozen national retailers that are either closing altogether or trimming back stores as closings number in the hundreds and continue at a pace not seen in years, partly because of the rise in online shopping, experts have said.

Other bankruptcy filings in recent years have come from American Apparel, Aeropostale, Pacific Sunwear of California, Sports Authority and RadioShack.

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