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.