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The Winner Is ...

CHICAGO -- Sealed bids for some or all of bankrupt Swifty Serve Corp.'s 600 shuttered stores were submitted and reviewed by federal bankruptcy court late last week, with the winners to be notified within 7 to 10 days, a spokesman for the agency administrating the sales said Monday.

"The winning bidders will be notified but their names won't be released until the closing, which will probably come after the first of the year," Amy Mertz, of the National Real Estate Clearinghouse (NRC), told CSNews Online. "There are different types of bids -- all or nothing, multiple bids."

Mertz would not identify the bidders or the number of interested parties, but CSNews Online has learned that most of the bidders bought fewer than five stores or just a single store. NRC received more than 4,500 bids from 1,000 bidders. One property alone fetched 75 bids. The average property had about 20 bids, though a several stores received no bids.

In all, NRC sent out some 5,000 brochures and 9,000 due diligence packages. The demand was so overwhelming, the deadline had to be pushed back two weeks to Dec. 17.

CSNews Online has reported that a number of parties interested in portions of the retired Swifty network. Among the potential bidders, The Pantry Inc. was reportedly interested in 40 to 50 locations, Swifty's co-founders, W. Clay Hamner and Wayne Rogers, had voiced interest in picking up 200 or so units. BP and Hess were considered eyeing prime locations in Florida. And Alimentation Couche-Tard, with its pocketbook always open for good discounts, is also in the hunt to bolster its expansion into the Southeast.

By many accounts, up to 100 of Swifty's stores would remain closed because they are considered aged, small or are encumbered with environmental problems. In its heyday, Swifty operated more than 600 stores in a 12-state patch.