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American TV opens doors for start of liquidation sale

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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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5 comments

  • Tim W

    Went to American today, the majority of folks there had no problem talking to each other about how rediculous the prices were. Way to high after the discount. I noticed a few times when a deal was found the salesperson would say it was not the correct tag on the item and then replace the tag. A group interested in a piece of furniture for $368 which seemed like a possible deal all walked from the deal after the sales clerk corrected the price to $1699. Not worth the gas spent to go there. There prices are never that high!

  • Cheri

    That place has never been worth the time.. the place has always been way over priced and it doesn’t help that they have a bunch of really slimy “used car” sales guys that follow you around and not only do they pressure you, but they also will LIE and say anything to make a sale! They told my mom (when microwaves first came out on the market) that you cannot have windows in microwaves because that will “radiate your body” which is dangerous! (All in an attempt to sell her a microwave that had no window). Obviously she walked out because she didn’t believe a word of what they were saying. We still talk about how ridiculous that lie was even today many years later. The fact that they have to outright LIE to make a sale should be a strong testament to the fact as to WHY they are going out of business. Unfortunately a lot of these scummy salespeople will be filling other jobs that honest folks could be filling.

  • sara

    Went there yesterday so we could possibly buy a samsung smart tv.. well lets just say walmart is still cheaper!! Almost $700 for the same tv walmart is selling for $449!! American is a rip off and wont even come close to a good going out of buisness sale, and sad thing is there was NO negotiating!! Even after we showed them walmart was selling same tv for way cheaper… Glad their going out of buisness! Surprised they made it as long as they did!

  • Don

    Went there Friday, good to see I wasn’t just crazy. Appliances there were “marked down” yet I found the same exact ones $200 less at Menards. The salesman said it’s because the creditors own the company now. If you are looking for a great deal…don’t bother looking here.

  • Seth Schroeder

    Must have depended on the store because found my coffee table/tv stand for good prices. I didn’t expect the electronics to be cheap the first day. Someone else bought a bed they said they had been shopping around for the past year and saved $700 on it?

    The biggest issue is American has always been overpriced so when they mark 20% off or 30% off on a lot of items thats a normal sale weekend at other stores.

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