After More Than 40 Years, Building #19 Is Closing Down

The Internet is mostly to blame.

Photo via 19

Photo via 19

For decades, Building #19 has been home to “good stuff. Cheap.” And now, that stuff is about to get a whole lot cheaper.

On Friday, the discount warehouse chain, known for their quirky advertisements and television commercials, filed for bankruptcy in Boston court. The owners and affiliates are now looking to hire a liquidation consultant so that they can officially close their doors by December.

Hingham-based Building #19, founded in 1966, is known for selling household goods like rugs and cleaning supplies as well as clothing and big-box items like mattresses and furniture.

So what’s behind the sudden shutdown? The Internet, of course.

According to a 14-page filing submitted in bankruptcy court, the company claimed that increased competition online was part of the reason that they decided to close their 10 stores, which are located in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.

From the court filing:

The advent of Internet shopping has dramatically altered the retail landscape, particularly for so-called “big box” stores such as are operated by Building 19. As a result, Building 19s’ respective sales have declined. The decline in sales and the resulting losses, among other things, eroded Building 19’s working capital. Without sufficient working capital, Building 19 was left with little flexibility to make inventory purchases. Since much of Building 19’s inventory consists of surplus, salvage goods, overstocks, closeouts and irregulars that become available erratically, Building 19’s business model relies, in part, on having sufficient working capital on hand to make erratic inventory purchases. Building 19’s lack of working capital impaired its ability to capitalize on erratic opportunities to purchase inventory.

The company has around 99 employees, most who work in the retail locations. Twenty-four employees work at Building #19’s corporate offices, according to court documents. The company wants to hold an official “going out of business sale” to “maximize the value of the Debtors’ inventory for their creditors.”

Customers looking to scoop up deals and grab a bargain before the chain is gone for good should do so by December 8.

  • Cameron Purdie

    This is the least okay I think I have ever read. I have been going to Building 19 my entire life, since my parents would bring me as a small child. I still go there every week. I can’t believe it’s just going to be gone…

  • Ed Durand

    It was always fun looking for a deal at Building 19. It is sad when people lose their job and an institution closes its doors. Loved the flyers. Will the last person to leave the building turn off the lights and take the bulbs.

  • Chuck B

    I always enjoyed the bargains and practically furnished my first home with items from Building 19. It’s the end of an era and I’m sad to see it go. Also, very sad for the 100 or so employees.

  • Bice Senna

    They used to get items from companies like Gear, LL Bean, etc, but stopped getting those items. I remember the place used to be packed back then. Since they stopped offering those items, I noticed business was off. Maybe that is part of the reason. I used to love going there just to see what I could buy, even if I didn’t need it. It was the deal I was getting.

  • barbara

    I have always loved the building 19 stores. I moved away from the area to South Carolina 20 yrs ago. About 2 years ago a new store opened
    up here called “OLLIES” very similar with the ads and they way they are drawn up and say good stuff cheap. always reminded me of bldg 19 I always wondered if there was some connection somewhere.

    • SaintThomas VI

      I live in Sumter, SC but used to work at Bldg 19 7/8 in Lynn before I joined the Air Force!

    • Steve

      There were the same at one point. Jerry and Ollie went to BU together.

    • SaintThomas VI

      Wow! I used to work at Bldg 19 7/8 in Lynn and now live in SC…Ollies IS like it as well as the ads.


    That store is depressing it makes me sad every time I get dragged in there, a lot of unorganized no name crap and expired food, I wonder if Spag’s 19 in Worcester is included ?

  • SaintThomas VI

    I used to work at Building 19 7/8 in Lynn before I joined the Air Force.

  • Ed Gestonehill

    drive to the local dump, walk around for 10 minutes and get back in your car and go home empty-handed…experience will be identical

  • Teresa G

    I liked this store, after returning to New England, I was sad to see the closed sign on one of my favorite stores. I use to look in there for interesting plates and dishes, also pretty journals to write in. I would also get my mom a bunch of puzzle books.