American TV opens doors for start of liquidation sale

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- American TV and Appliance opened its doors on Thursday, February 20th for the start of its massive "going out of business" sale."

American has 11 different locations, most of which are in Wisconsin. The liquidation sale is being run by a separate company. It is anticipated the stores will completely shut down for business between April 19th and April 30th.

Crowds at the Brown Deer location were so large Thursday, one salesman said it was three times busier than a typical Black Friday. Other locations in southeastern Wisconsin saw similar situations.

While many shoppers took home furniture and electronics, others left the store with nothing.

"I'm empty-handed because it doesn't seem like it's a good deal. It seems like it's maybe a little marked up and then brought back down again, but research will tell all that," said Wayne Stenglein.

The complaint is one heard from many bargain shoppers, who say they expected to see better prices at the sale.

"A lot of people are screaming 'it's not a sale, they're raising the prices and then putting the sale tag on there.' So really at this moment, it's not a sale," said Dequan Prater.

Other shoppers stopped into American to make sure the warranties on their previously purchased products will still be valid.

"They're going to stand behind everything. The manufacturer will stand behind the couch and loveseats. Seale will stand behind the mattress," said James Liermann.

Other customers had a hard time exchanging items or getting back deposit money, which American had said should not be a problem. The Better Business Bureau says if you're having trouble, try speaking with someone in company management, but warns phone lines have recently been jammed.

If you must, you can file a complaint with the BBB, which says American has traditionally been very responsive to such complaints in the past.

As a result of American shutting down, officials say 989 employees will lose their jobs. Those workers will be compensated, with benefits, through the notification period, and the majority will continue employment through the closing process.

American grew and expanded in the 1970s and 1980s as its owner at the time, Len Mattioli, because a personality called Crazy TV Lenny. In 2001, Mattioli sold his controlling interest to the current CEO Doug Ruehl.

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