Hawthorne, Calif. - Ken Crane's, a fixture in Southern California TV retailing, is liquidating all merchandise and will shut its doors within 60 days.
The privately held business found itself "powerfully affected by the nation's unusually severe and continuing economic downturn," the Crane family said in a statement, and "a steep, relentless decline in same-store sales activity led to the difficult decision."
The 62-year-old business shut four of its 10 stores in January as part of a restructuring that also saw the departure of senior VP/COO Steve Caldero.
"This is unquestionably the most painful business decision our family has ever had to make," said president Casey Crane. "We have been a home for employees, a place of trust for our customers and vendors, and a source of pride and leadership among our competitors for many decades. As painful as this is, we plan to end this as fairly as we can for all concerned."
The chain, founded in 1948 by Casey's father Ken as a Magnavox-exclusive dealer, was a high-service specialty A/V retailer renowned for being a West Coast showcase for new products and technologies, including Panasonic's 103-inch plasma display, which it presented exclusively in California in 2007.
The company posted its best year ever in 2006, growing by more than 40 percent. But by April of 2008, after being battered by the ailing Southern California housing market and weak local economy, Ken Crane's implemented an aggressive workforce reduction, making across-the-board cuts in overhead to maintain its viability.
"In the past, we have been able to weather these kinds of economic storms because people tend to stay home more, tap into their home equity, upgrade their home entertainment systems, and wait for conditions to improve," Crane said. "Unfortunately, the combination of home foreclosures, tight lending policies and high unemployment combined to create the biggest recession in our company's history."
Ken Crane's is the second Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) dealer to close its doors this season, following Flanner's Home Entertainment into liquidation.
"We may not be the first consumer electronics retailer to close in Southern California, but I sure hope we are the last," Crane said.