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Smith’s Says It Won’t Ever Reopen

Sat., Sept. 2, 1995

The two Smith’s Home Furnishings stores in the Spokane area will never reopen, the company announced Friday.

The furniture and electronics chain’s other Washington stores also are permanently closed.

That all but locks the door on local consumers who had hoped to pick up undelivered merchandise or collect on warranties. The Wilsonville, Ore.-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 22.

The stores were supposed to re-open and stay in business through the Labor Day weekend. But the doors were locked Aug. 25, and guards have been stationed in front of them ever since.

Glen Grodem, Smith’s chairman and chief executive officer, formally announced the store closures at a Friday news conference in Portland. A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved the move earlier in the day. Some 400 workers, including 81 in Spokane, are losing their jobs.

Grodem said customers who have made a down payment for merchandise they have not received will have to drive to the Portland area or Boise to get it.

However, there’s no guarantee the products will be there when they arrive. Some customers at the Portland store left empty-handed Friday because the merchandise they ordered was unavailable.

Customers who ordered merchandise here but didn’t put money down will have those orders canceled.

Under the bankruptcy plan approved by Judge Elizabeth Perris in Portland, the Boise and Oregon stores reopened this weekend. The tentative plan allows Smith’s to remain in operation with what cash it has left.

Consumers aren’t the only ones to lose due to Smith’s closure here.

The company announced that some payroll checks were sent out Thursday. But the company expects to be able to pay employees at the closed stores only between 60 percent and 70 percent of the salaries they are owed.

And some employees have found previous checks worthless.

Checks that Smith’s wrote to employees have been bouncing, and so have checks it wrote to service people working as independent contractors, said Teresa Clairmont, general manager of Check-Rite.

“They bounced checks to us, too,” Clairmont said. Check-Rite, a service that tracks bad checks and tries to recover owed funds, provided check verification for the Spokane Smith’s stores.

The fate of the Smith’s buildings at Northpointe Plaza and 212 N. Sullivan Road remains uncertain. Mac Whiteford, a commercial real estate broker for Kiemle & Hagood, said those spaces are tied up because of Smith’s bankruptcy. Kiemle & Hagood is the company that handles the leasing of Northpointe Plaza spaces.

Joe Ward, an associate broker with Pinnacle Realty, said he knows parties are interested in the Valley site. Pinnacle was recently approached by the Portland-based partnership that owns the Valley building.

“There are several people looking at it now, but only God knows what will happen to it,” Ward said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

, DataTimes


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