ST. CLAIRSVILLE - About six weeks after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Designer Furniture Warehouse on Thursday will begin selling off inventory as it prepares to close stores in St. Clairsville and seven other locations in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
Other stores that will be closing include New Philadelphia, Zanesville, Chillicothe, Niles and Heath in Ohio; and Washington and Pleasant Hills in Pennsylvania.
As the various stores get rid of inventory during the massive liquidation sale, remaining stock will be shifted around to various locations, so it's unclear when the St. Clairsville store, located on Banfield Road near the Ohio Valley Mall, will close its doors for good.
"Eventually we'll consolidate the stores. ... By location, it's impossible to say. They'll be pared down over a period of time," said Tom Liddell, senior vice president of sales and marketing for DFW's liquidation firm, Planned Furniture Promotions.
There is a court-imposed deadline to close the stores tied to the bankruptcy proceedings, Liddell said. He was unsure of the exact date but said it's at least a few months away, and he believes the liquidation sale will conclude well in advance of that deadline.
Founded in 2004, DFW quickly grew from a single store to more than a dozen in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Nov. 13 despite strong sales, according to Liddell.
As the furniture industry at large has struggled in recent years, he said, furniture vendors have grown increasingly cautious about extending credit lines to fast-growing companies such as DFW - thus hurting its stores' ability to fulfill customer orders on a timely basis.
"In a way, they were a victim of their own success," Liddell said.
Locations in Wexford, Pa., and Huntington, W.Va., already have closed. The company plans to continue operating a single store in Columbus.
Liddell said an average of seven employees remains at each of the store's locations, down from about 10 when the bankruptcy was announced. He called DFW a "very professional, very clean, very good company with loyal employees."
"It's kind of a shame that this happened," Liddell said.