Linens N' Things going out of business

RALEIGH Shoppers are still coming and going at Linens N' Things. The stores outside looks very much the same, but over night ownership has dramatically changed. One example is the store is no longer accepting coupons.

"I came in to use my coupon, because it says expires October 25," Raleigh resident Melissa Smith said. "They weren't even honoring their sale prices either."

And now, after declaring bankruptcy, everything must go --including the merchandise, the stores and 17,000 jobs at stores nationwide.

"There are some store managers there, and of course part time employees, that's looking forward for the holidays. And now to hear this, you definitely got to think how are they going to spend their money this holiday season," neighboring merchant Josh Pender said.

With 371 stores across the U.S. and eight in the Triangle and Fayetteville --Linens N' Things is the biggest retailer to go under so far during the current economic down turn.

"That's a terrible thing, and this is not probably the first store this will happen," Garner resident Gale Cass said.

Employees at the Garner store said sales started to slide with the real estate market. When fewer people move, there is less need for new home furnishings.

"I have a lot of clients who are realtors and they have expressed to me that the home sales are extremely, extremely down," Smith said.

Shoppers can expect big discounts at Linens N' Things beginning Friday, but the sudden fire-sale makes some a little nervous about the future.

"The question is who is next? What else is about to go under? Is that just the start of something that's about to happen," Clayton resident Josh Pender said.

Ownership of Linens N' Things is still in flux.

Officials have no firm dates for when layoffs will start or when stores will close. But they acknowledge they will stay in business only long enough to sell existing merchandise and they hope to sell everything by the end of the year.

Store officials they are still accepting gift cards, but consumer watch-dogs say shoppers should redeem those quickly and be very careful about buying new gift cards from stores which could suddenly close its doors.

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