Recession nails House of Tools

The Red Deer outlet of House of Tools has begun a liquidation sale after the parent company recently declared bankruptcy.

House of Tools store manager Lee Miller walks through the store Monday. All stock in the store has been reduced in price by 25%.

The Red Deer outlet of House of Tools has begun a liquidation sale after the parent company recently declared bankruptcy.

Lee Miller, manager of the local store at 6750 52nd Ave., said up to eight people worked at the local store which has been in Red Deer for four years.

The first House of Tools outlet opened in Edmonton in the early 1960s and the chain grew to include 13 outlets in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan, and a warehouse in Calgary. Four of the stores were closed in April, leaving three in B.C., two in Saskatchewan and the rest in Alberta.

Miller said the remaining outlets will be liquidating their inventory over the next few weeks.

“We’ve been told it could be anywhere from four weeks to six weeks; probably, more realistically, four weeks,” he said.

“We’re still getting our inventory in. We’re still adding to the stuff here.”

Miller said everything is 25 per cent off and the liquidation sale is running 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

House of Tools is owned by Oregon-based Western Tool Supply. The parent company filed for bankruptcy June 9 in Oregon, citing plummeting sales, a lack of operating cash and long-term leases that don’t reflect current market rates.

At its peak, the company had 61 stores in 13 states, but the number of outlets had dropped to 32 by the time of the bankruptcy filing.

In Canada, the court order to begin liquidating came on June 16. RSM Richter Inc. was appointed receiver.

“I didn’t think it would get this far,” said Miller, who has been with the company for three years, all of them in Red Deer.

“I knew they were having some financial difficulty,” he added, saying he hoped they would keep going until they got through the current downturn in the next few months.

“They gave up all hope of coming out the other side.”

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