• Clint Engel

UPDATE: Wisconsin-based American TV & Appliance closing

Some suppliers surprised by news

MADISON, Wis. — News that the one-time Top 100 company American TV & Appliance is closing took some industry suppliers by surprise, given the retailer's record for paying its bills on time.

The 11-store Madison, Wis.-based retailer announced to local media Monday that it was closing after years of tough business conditions, according to reports.

Television stations in Madison and Milwaukee along with the Milwaukee Business Journal reported that a going-out-of-business sale is set to begin Thursday at all 11 stores. The Milwaukee Fox television affiliate said that American TV will be filing a Wisconsin Chapter 128 Receivership, which is state court alternative to bankruptcy protection.

An operator for the company said Monday that President and CEO Doug Reuhl wasn't taking any calls, and the retailer declined to send a news release that went to the local media.

One Fox station said American TV cited five years of an "unforgiving" economy in the decision to close. With the retailer's receivership plans, it's unclear how much money the company owes its furniture suppliers and how much they are likely to get back.

Dave Carpenter, director of credit for La-Z-Boy High Point, told Furniture/Today that La-Z-Boy's Kincaid division has only a small exposure with American TV and is owed less than $10,000. He said the receivership process is similar to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, though it doesn't include a Chapter 7 trustee overseeing the case.

Carpenter and other industry sources said the news was surprising. One, who asked not to be identified, said it was "sort of a shock" because the retailer has been a good customer.

"The customer has been paying their invoices promptly and has been an excellent customer since 2003," La-Z-Boy's Carpenter said, adding that American TV used to be a large account, although its purchases over time became smaller.

Ashley Furniture Chairman Ron Wanek said Ashley has done "a lot of business with them for over 30 years" and the retailer doesn't currently owe his company any money.

"It's always sad to see a fine merchant close," Wanek said, calling the American TV team "very nice people."

"While this is a sad moment it is also a proud moment," American's Reuhl said in the release sent to local media. "It's a moment to be proud of our efforts and to be proud of what we have delivered to the community."

American TV & Appliance has been in business for more than 60 years and was last included on Furniture/Today's Top 100 in 1995. According to its website, the company operates 11 stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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