by Ben Rooney
Popular auto makes, magazine publishers and retailers were among the businesses laid to rest in 2009. Here's a list of familiar names you won't see in the future.
1. Circuit City Retail Stores
Circuit City became one of the largest retailers to go out of business this year, after the 60-year old electronics chain declared bankruptcy at the end of 2008.
The fall of Circuit City was mainly a result of the prodigious belt tightening that took place in households across America during the depths of the recession. But the company's demise had its roots in poor management decisions dating back several years.
In 2007, for example, Circuit City laid off several thousand experienced sales people and replaced them with cheaper but less knowledgeable workers. That took a toll on customer loyalty, and ultimately benefited rivals like Best Buy.
Circuit City also found itself in the unfortunate position of having to compete with Wal-Mart as the world's largest retailer aggressively moved into the electronics market with low prices.
Meanwhile, the Circuit City brand has been resurrected online. Systemax Inc., a direct seller of consumer electronics, acquired the trademark and Internet domain name for Circuit City in April.
GM dubbed Saturn "a different kind of car company" when it launched the brand in 1990. Alas, it was not different enough.
Saturn was one of four GM brands orphaned when the largest U.S. automaker went bankrupt early this year. The brand was originally intended to help GM compete with smaller, imported cars. But sales were generally tepid and the Saturn languished as Americans became increasingly fond of big SUVs.
After a protracted, and ultimately futile, courtship with car dealership operator Penske Automotive Group, GM announced in October that the 2010 model year would be Saturn's last.
Gear heads across the nation mourned the loss of Pontiac, when a bankrupt General Motors decided to discontinue the long-standing brand earlier this year as part of a restructuring plan.
Pontiac, best known for muscle cars such as the GTO and Firebird, had been a staple of GM's product line since it began production in 1926. But it didn't make the cut when the automaker emerged from bankruptcy in July with a new focus on its "core" brands.
In April, after an effort to salvage it as a "niche brand" failed, GM officially announced that Pontiac would be dropped, and that all remaining models would be phased out by the end of 2010.
When Kodak introduced Kodachrome in 1935, it became the first commercially successful color film.
But demand for traditional films evaporated over the last decade as digital photography became increasingly available. At the time it was retired in June, sales of Kodachrome were less than 1% of Kodak's still picture film revenue.
Kodachrome was also difficult to manufacture and process. In fact, there was only one processor left in the United States that still developed Kodachrome when it was discontinued.
The Kodachrome brand, however, may be best remembered as the subject of a 1973 song in which Paul Simon begged, "Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away."
5. Home Depot Expo
Home Depot, the No. 1 home improvement chain, announced plans early this year to shutter its Expo Design Centers as demand for granite countertops and custom window treatments withered.
Launched in the early 1990s, Expo offered a variety of upscale home decor items and custom-installation services. The brand was aimed at homeowners who wanted a luxury remodel without having to hire an interior designer.
Home Depot officially pulled the plug on Expo in January as part of a plan to focus on its "core" stores. While the weak economy, sluggish housing market and lack of available credit were the final nails in Expo's coffin, the company acknowledged that it had never performed well financially.