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Boston-area discount retailer Building #19, famous for its comic book-style circulars and the motto "Good Stuff ... Cheap," is closing its doors after a nearly half-century in business.
The Hingham-based company, with 10 stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, filed for bankruptcy last week. The company is seeking permission to hire a liquidation consultant and close by Dec. 8.
The company cited Internet competition and a lack of cash for new inventory as the reasons for the shutdown, according to the Patriot Ledger of Quincy.
In the bankruptcy filing, the company says a "decline in sales and the resulting losses" has eroded its working capital and ability to bring in new merchandise.
"Building 19's lack of working capital impaired its ability to capitalize on erratic opportunities to purchase inventory," the company's lawyers said in the filing.
Building #19 was co-founded in 1964 by Jerry Ellis, a laid-off appliance salesman. He and partner Harry Andler started by selling a shipment of fire-salvaged furniture from a warehouse in the Old Hingham Shipyard, according to the company website. The building didn't have a name, just a number — 19.
"The number 19 on the building became their lucky charm as more insurance companies began to turn to them to unload goods salvaged from fires, floods, hurricanes, railroad accidents and other disasters," the website says.
Over the years the chain evolved to sell overstock, surplus and irregular merchandise, from books to clothes to furniture and rugs.
It even sold odd items over the years, including prison uniforms, pedal-powered lawnmowers, and Canadian army motorcycles.
Andler died in 1978.
Ellis called himself the chain's commander-in-cheap and had a self-deprecating sense of humor about the no-frills, disorganized stores, which often had shelves made of unfinished plywood propped up by cinder blocks. One recent circular urged shoppers to "Suffer a little. Save a lot."
The chain has stores in Weymouth, Burlington, Natick, Norwood, Haverhill, Hanover and New Bedford, Mass.; Cranston and Pawtucket, R.I.; and Manchester, N.H.
This program aired on November 4, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.
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