Saturday, November 23, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ernst Home Center Liquidation Sales Start Today

Seattle Times Business Reporter

Ernst Home Center, the 103-year-old Seattle hardware and garden chain that announced it was folding earlier this month, will begin its going-out-of-business sale at 8 a.m. today.

Ernst officials said the company would begin selling more than $150 million in merchandise at 49 stores in the Northwest.

The liquidation sale is expected to continue through the end of January, said Jim Fox, Ernst spokesman.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Seattle yesterday gave the company approval to liquidate its assets.

Fox said Ernst was retaining the Alamo/Ozer/Schottenstein (AOS) Group, liquidation specialists, to help dispose of Ernst's merchandise, furniture, fixtures and real estate.

Four stores will not be participating in the liquidation sale, said Fox.

Potential buyers are lined up to purchase those Ernsts in Longview, Clark County; Casper, Wyo.; Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, and Bozeman, Mont. Those stores are being treated as going concerns, said Fox. The transactions may be completed within several weeks, he said.

Fox said he did not know who might be interested in acquiring the remaining Ernst leases. The AOS Group also will negotiate the leaseholds, said Fox.

Ernst, founded in downtown Seattle in 1893 by Fred and Charles Ernst, grew to a peak of 95 stores in 12 western states.

But squeezed by competitors such as Eagle Hardware & Garden and Home Depot, Ernst filed for protection from creditors in July under Chapter 11 of the federal Bankruptcy Code.

When it announced Nov. 11 that it was going out of business, Ernst had 53 stores in six states - Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. Thirteen stores are in King County.

Fox did not say what the sales reductions would be, but Mark Stein, a principal in the AOS Group, said the public stood to save "a significant amount of money" for the holidays.

Fox said the company would empty its warehouse in Kent and ship newly received merchandise to its various stores.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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