American TV & Appliance stores to close after 60 years of service

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — American TV & Appliance will be closing after 60 years of business after they complete their going-out-of-business sale beginning Thursday, February 20th.

Workers at American say they got notices before the stores opened on Monday, February 17th.

American will close its doors Monday evening at 11 different locations, most of which are in Wisconsin. On Tuesday and Wednesday, workers will prepare for a liquidation sale. That sale will begin on Thursday — and be run through a separate company.

American 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.

Arthur Davis, a merchandise coordinator, is one of the workers losing his job.

“Like I told my wife, we’ll just move on from here. It’s a bad situation for all of us to be in. Like I said it’s been 25 years here — and you really don’t get nothing out of it, you know,” said Davis.

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.

In a statement from American, the company says, “The last five years have been very difficult for our industries. We have fought hard, valiantly and with great integrity…But the economy has been unforgiving.”

During this sale, American will continue to fully serve their customers:

  • We will honor gift cards during the store-closing sale and provide refunds to customers who do not wish to redeem them.
  • All extended warranty policies that customers purchased are valid and insured through a third-party insurance company.
  • Customers who have open orders waiting for delivery will either receive delivery of their goods or a refund of their deposit.
  • All products in our service center will be repaired or returned to the customer prior to our closing.

American is filing a Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 128 Receivership for the protection of its creditors. Michael Polsky will be appointed as the receiver for the business.

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61 comments

  • np

    not surprised. my husband worked there for 2 years and just recently got a new job. American basically stole commissions from their salesmen! They did not value their employees and had poor management.

  • Stuckinwisconsin Still

    i have never been involved with a bigger group of idiots in my whole life. I am sure they are blaming this on the internet, but this company wrought with under qualifed leadership ‘is the result of years and years of nepotism. I am proud to live in a Wisconsin without AmericanTv and their never changing 1990’s furniture selection. See ya, and how in the wrolrd is HH Gregg staying open? They are just as bad.

    • DJ

      Although they definitely had nepotism they still had some great people working there. HH Greg stays open by paying their employees 1/2 of what American did by the way, I know several people who left American to go there and BEGGED to come back.

      The major issue was the fact that they tried to go head to head with the internet which was stupid. They gave up tons of margin to try to appeal to a customer type that prefers to not frequent stores. It was just an idiotic campaign.

      Had they maintained margins and said screw beating the internet, just be a better experience, they’d still probably be in business. That and they tossed some of their best managers for being ‘negative’ when they tried to tell corporate the their ideas were off track.

      • Stuckinwisconsin Still

        hahahah, can you believe Colder’s….COLDERS!!! Is still in business????? maybe this is some early april fools joke for a big sale……maybe this is a scam…….even more illogiacla than Colder’s half back scam…I don’t care. The Corporate leadsership were idiots, and all the people that could save the company were denied progression because they wer not related. I mean these idiots were still giving out free dvd players this past black Friday…DVD PLAYERS!!!!!!!!

  • wisco26

    I am surprised by all the negative comments and am sorry to see that they did not treat their employees well. We have bought everything from them mainly because of their amazing customer service. I would go look at all of the other places in Madison and never did I get treated as well as I did at American. Now I am very sad to see that the company did not treat those wonderful employees the way they deserved to be treated.

    • zan

      Totally agree. The comments are surprising and sad. We always talked to the same salesman, too. He knew everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – about his product. He always was a super nice man. Makes me really sad that their employees were treated badly. I hope they all find better jobs soon.

  • Joshua Downs

    I used to do deliveries for American and have found another job but they guy I worked with and a good friend are still doing the deliveries. They are in the 95% for customer satisfaction and own there own truck. They will be looking for new work if you can help them out. Thanks for your time.

  • consumer

    American was terrible. I can’t imagine how they stayed open so long. I bought one item there which stopped working within 3 weeks. I tried to return it and customer “service” initially refused, because the salesperson had quit in the interim and they wouldn’t be able to recover the commission. I had to get very assertive and complain loudly before the manager finally gave in and accepted the return. Never went back, but heard complaints about customer service from other people.

  • DJ

    Having managed an American for a long time I can honestly say I saw this coming. People came to American for years for the knowledgable salespeople and great promotions.

    In the end, they kept lowering what they gave to salespeople to ‘keep the doors open,’ while selling stuff at internet pricing. It pretty much made all but a few salespeople incapable of making a living. In addition to this, when managers tried to explain to corporate the issues they were experiencing at the ground level they were touted as ‘negative’. I remember one meeting where they were discussing a new promotion and I mentioned, ‘In order to make up the lost margin this promotion would need to draw 42% increased traffic. Is there any reason to believe we’ll experience 42% increased traffic?’ We experienced 10% increase in traffic and lost a ton.

    They lost their best people, had constant turnover costs, and although they really had some phenominal management at store levels, their corporate management were out of touch and only wanted to hear from people telling them they were brilliant.

    • steve

      That is so true, I worked at American for over 20 years and if you were not a yes man you would be belittled in the meeting. Doug R. Did everything he could to run his best salespeople out the door to save cost…..

      • Stuckinwisconsin Still

        let’s be honest here. An American Store manager or department manager would get eaten alive in any other retail setting. They have no educational value, they learned absolutely nothing relevant to today’s business model, Just because you come to work everyday, does not qualify you as a leadership candidate in any retail environment, except for maybe Walmart- which is the only ‘trait’ they look for. Dj, do not get your hopes up, aim low, you have a lot of growing to do.

  • theresa.torrence@att.net

    I have had a lot of business with them personally and business related. All my sales people were excellent!! My hearts go out to all of them including the delivery men. I was shocked at the news.

    • Stuckinwisconsin Still

      agreed. When a company is underwritten for warranties , that company chooses the level for which they will be held accountable. Americans Insurance Company is the same that office/depot/Officemax use. They cover accidental damage, Americans level was the lowest and covered absolutely nothing not accidental damge. This is how a company turns into a transaction based company…they disrespected their customers and stole from them by selling their ‘warranties’.
      If you are not familar with business landscape, OfficeMax has quite possibly the worst leadership of all publicly traded companies(Office Depot bought them, and saved them),
      It’s like having better health insurance if you didn’t have any at all……(many hospitals give huge no-insurance discounts, and you wind up paying less than if you had insurance).

  • Thieu Pham

    You can’t blame the corporate guys, they went to college and learned how to use an equation and as long as the equation worked out, they were supposed to make money. If they lost money, it couldn’t be their fault because the equation said they were supposed to make money so that means that the stupid guys selling products must not be working hard enough. If you don’t believe me, just ask any business professor and then ask him if he has ever worked in retail or run his own business or if he just got his degree after he was able to spit things back verbatim from the book written by another guy who learned how to recite things back from another book written by another guy who read a book somewhere that said equations were never wrong and they were the key to success of any business. Don’t weep for these workers because they now know what type of business to stay away from. When you walk into an interview you should ask them why you should work for them and if they can’t give you a straight and honest answer they are most likely just another American.

  • TV Stevie

    Mattioli’s drunken, overweight kid looked like ‘Tommy Boy’ in one company newsletter…glassy-eyed, hair askew with his shirt half out. Oh and that ‘free interest’ they offered when I worked there…they charged the salespeople 18% for that…at a time when my credit cards were only charging 15%.

    • Stupid Flanders

      I remember back in the late 80’s I was dumb enough to get an American TV credit card and charged up some electronics on it. Then I got a letter in the mail saying because of my good credit I could skip next month’s payment – so I did. But I didn’t read the fine print that said I had to still mail back the monthly payment coupon even if I agreed to skip the payment. So they soaked me for a late fee and raised my interest rate.

      Never shopped there again and made sure to tell everyone I knew about it. Sorry for the folks losing their jobs but good riddance to a bad company with unethical practices.

    • RAOK

      I am so disheartend by the rude and downright mean comments I read here. I would say it sounds like grade school again, but even kids have more sense that this. All of these people are losing their jobs – sales, delivery, corporate – all of them. I have been in this situation and know how devastating it can be to families. Anyone who watches the news at all knows that this has been a very tough time for retail – especially electronics etc. I am sure that every effort was made to keep the company afloat – people at all levels worked hard to avoid this. The stupid name calling and finger pointing is most often done by small minded cowards who like to kick folks when they are down. Whether or not you liked American or any individual – at least show compassion for the people who’s lives are being turned upside down.

  • Disher

    I worked at American as a sales person / sales manager for over 10 years. The company, for the last 6 years was a joke. Managers forced to micro manage everything. Well, American, you can take your cycle of development book, yin and yang, locust of control and burn them in the garbage, along with upper management. What a joke of business the last few years. I feel sorry for the salespeople, that’s it. Doug ran this company into the ground along with his henchmen Ian. BYE BYE

  • Gary D. Hamilton

    So long TV Lenny, I had quit shopping there decades ago because of what I felt was dishonesty shown to me after purchasing a television. I am the type who stays with a company who shows honesty and loyalty to a customer. This is what I found with Best Buy and have been loyal to them for well over twenty years.

  • steve .k

    What’s that saying bad things happen to good people . Most companies now don’t value their employee’s , a good employee could make you money not anymore companies don’t care .Good luck finding work ,there is a ton of $10.00 a hour jobs out there .Common Joe wants to get back at these paperpushers don’t spend your hard earned money at these establishment’s .

    • Jill

      Yes…good saying for the good workers losing their jobs. However there’s another one for the company…what goes around comes around! They sold broken scratched damaged ruined junk and didn’t care about the customers spending their hard earned money! As for the company and its upper management…karma’s a b$&@! As for the good workers who also just got ss fewer over by them…everything happens for a reason and things will work out for the better!

  • Whats next.

    The employees only learned of the closing this morning at a meeting. My husband has been with them since the late 1990’s. A very dedicated employee. Now with me(his wife) having been without a job for almost a year due to over 10+ medical issues, a 6 year old and another one on the way what are we going to do? Maybe if they stopped advertising all over and sponsoring people it would have saved more money. The employees also stayed even through the past years without any annual raises for past 2-3 years. Yes, some people disliked how the management ran things as well do I but it was a job that a lot of us people needed to live and our children. This is going to take a HUGE toll on us. I will pray for all the employees that better things come for all of us.

      • Whats next.

        Thank you :) I guess people would understand being in our shoes. I use to not care as much when I was younger and barely out of school but now when you actually go through things like this you get it more and feel for everyone, even the rude people. Trust me if I could magically make my med issues go away and change my genetics I would, but I cant. Hubby’s job was a great one. He loved working with his co-workers and they felt like a 2nd family to him. Just wish all the cold-hearted comments would stop and realize they too can one day be in the same situations as you or I and its very hurtful to hear those kinds of things. Plus now what are we to do about insurance? We very much need it this year. Again ty for the nice comment. A lot of us appreciate it :)

  • VCA

    I worked at American TV for 7 years in the service department and I feel absolutly horrible for all the employees. It seemed like every year there were job cuts here and there. Im praying for all of you and your families!

    • Py

      Hey Shiggy, yep, this place closed under Obama’s watch, but it started to fall under Bush. Oh, by the way, I checked out my health care options in case I don’t find work in the next 60 days; Your hero, Scott Walker opted out of the medicare option for people who couldn’t afford health insurance. Good thing I’m in excellent health, because I can’t afford insurance now.

  • Brown Deer MIT

    I along with 3 of my closest friends worked at American in the late 90s early 2000s as an MIT and we all made a great living right out of college, great memories, but upper management didn’t know what the hell they were doing and they can shove D track up their rear ends….

  • sad

    Everyone hear is in the same boat , lost jobs how will they support there family ‘s? so when hate is out there instead of understanding , it shows we have no support for these people. i had worked there for 15 years , and it made me a better sales person has my numbers and customer surveys i got proved it .yes it was it long hours , but it’s retail …
    i made some great friends , i had worked at many stores and never felt employes where treated bad. the ones who complained well where the ones who did not do that well in sales , but also did not want to learn. i always felt management was fair , but again attitude is everything ! i will say a prayer for all these families and hope for them. and upper management i never had a problem with any time i called . and they also are out of job to.

  • whitetabby4

    This is sad. I know a lot of the employees – I know first hand what they are going through and what they will go through since American closed the MQT, MI store 8 months ago. I wish them all the very best. So many hard working, caring and talented people. It was a very good job. Made some really great friends (many are like family) over the years and met and married my hubby from working there so I am thankful for that. Keep your heads up everyone!

  • Michael

    I am sad to hear this.
    I am looking to hire talented applicants.
    I also am seeking class A/B drivers.
    Contractor/Company drivers welcome.

    Suddath Relocation Systems is hiring.
    N8W22270 Johnson Dr. Waukesha Wi.
    Mike Marsolek is the quality service manager
    262-446-4721
    mike.marsolek@suddath.com

    Feel free to contact me with any additional questions.
    Please feel free to stop by and, fill out an application today.

  • newbeginings

    My husband was a very hard working slave of american for 13 years – always promised raises but never received trained to do run the DC but never given the pay\ we called this coming and no one believed us but come on a year ago they sold buildings that have been paid off for decades ??? Doug and George ruhl pocketed the money and left everyone else high and dry. Its OK though he is already at new company today doing app because ethey want to hire him making 12k more a year you guys there are jobs out there he was hire up but still you can find something that will actually deserve you not people only after them selves

  • Edward Thomson

    LIQUIDATION! DO YOUR RESEARCH ONLINE BEFORE YOU BUY! Liquidation companies are hired to get AS MUCH AS THEY CAN back. They typically will go through, mark up EVERYTHING to the maximum, THEN cross out THAT price and provide a price that says 20% or 30% off! Sounds great! That is until you research the item and find out that you can buy the SAME item at a normal cost elsewhere that is typically lower that the marked down price. Just because that sticker show a price that is marked down by a huge amount does not mean it is! Do your research and look up items on your phone via the net before you purchase.

  • John

    American TV absolutely scammed me on an extendid warrenty. The worst experience I have ever had with any company anywhere.
    They ripped me off. I am glad to see them go. They treated customers horrible. I have never set foot in that store since.
    Get out of town. The company practices are horrible to say the least.

  • Cheri

    There will be a lot of “shady car salesmen” type employees looking for a job. Seriously, all of their sales people were such a bunch of liars. We visited a few of their stores and every single time we went we were lied to… massively! When microwaves came out back many many years ago, one sales guy was trying to sell my parents one that had no window and told them that “They are not available with windows because they will radiate you!” – lying to my parents face about how microwaves are so dangerous and unsafe if they have a window on them. Talk about pulling false info out of your arse!

  • paul

    I worked for American for about 7 years, off and on, in the 80’s and 90’s eventually working my way up to manager of one of the departments. It is not true that everything they sold was defective–but it was true often enough that it proved to be my biggest headache, and when I addressed the issue to my bosses (I had several) I was fired. It is also not true that all the salesmen were shady–but again, there were enough that it gave the company a bad name. What I did see was that competing forces did work to lower prices from $1000 for a 20″ Color TV down to what it is today–if you can even find one that small–with such a little margin that no company can now afford to pay commission. There was monumental theft inside the company as well, and that never helps the bottom line. Either way, there were many good people working there and I hope things work out for them. I found a better life after American, better pay, better hours.

  • Jeff

    I am very sad about this news. I have been shopping at American in Rockford for over 15 years. Nearly all of my current furniture was bought there, as well as my last 3 TVs. I don’t know anything about the inner workings of their business, but I always felt as if I was treated very well by the employees. Most of my purchases were made when they ran sales or specials, and I always felt that I got more than my moneys worth at those times. i have been royally screwed by Best Buy in the past and refuse to ever shop there again, which is another reason why I kept returning to American. It looks as if my furniture/appliance shopping options are getting pretty thin in Rockford.

  • Andrew Bartelt

    Does anyone have any information or contacts re the claim that “All extended warranty policies that customers purchased are valid and insured through a third-party insurance company” ??? How could someone pursue the validity and procedure re an extended warranty ?


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