By Courtney Gousman
Fenton, MO (KSDK) - An estimated 500 people will be without a job in a matter of weeks. Furniture, appliance, and electronics retailer-American announced today, it will be pulling all its stores out of the St. Louis area.
The Wisconsin based company has four stores and a distribution center right here in the St. Louis area. There are about 100 employees at each location-- and some of those workers tell me they just found out today, they'll be without a job in a matter of weeks.
"I was actually very surprised. This is my favorite furniture store."
Kathy Birlew says she's shopped at American for years.
Wednesday she visited American furniture, appliance, and electronics in Fenton in search of a loveseat. This came after hearing about the chain pulling out of the St. Louis market-closing its Bridgeton, Fenton, Cottleville and O'Fallon, Illinois locations.
"Just wanted to check it out to see if they had anything I might be interested in when they liquidate," says Birlew.
Officials with American say this was a tough decision to make, but stores in the St. Louis market didn't seem to be bouncing back from the recession-in terms of business-like its other 11 locations in the Midwest.
"Well it's no surprise. St. Louis with its 92 suburbs has a policy of biggering your neighbor," says Julie Niemann, a market analyst with Smith-Moore and Company.
Niemann says St. Lousians better get used to seeing this.
"We're going to continue on in this trend in St. Louis. We have the compound problem of way too many retailers here in St. Louis," she says.
She says until the housing market starts to improve, stores offering furniture, appliances, and electronics will continue to suffer.
"Everybody's still living in mom and dad's basement that's the problem. And until they come out of the basement, they're not going to get new furniture and the new appliances," says Niemann.
For now, American officials say they plan to sell off all inventory at its St. Louis locations-- a process that's expected to take eight to 10 weeks.
Most of the American stores in our area have been in place since 2004.
These stores will be closed for the next two days-until Saturday to prepare for the store closing sales. Corporate officials say you can expect to see reduced pricing.
American said it will honor gift cards during the store-closing sale and provide refunds to customers who do not want to redeem them. All extended warranty policies are valid and insured through a third-party insurance company. Customers who have open orders waiting for delivery will either receive delivery of their goods or a refund. All produces in the service center will be repaired or returned to the customer prior to closing.