In Your Corner: Out Of Business

By Ryan Elijah

June 18, 2010 Updated Dec 29, 2008 at 10:14 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's Newscenter)--
As consumer spending has slowed dramatically, many area businesses have been fighting to survive. Recently, two longtime local businesses were forced to close their doors leaving many frustrated customers behind.
Just over a month ago, Carolyn Falbe ordered a $346 dollar mother of the bride dress from "Shoe of a Different Color", she quickly found out the Fort Wayne Dress shop abruptly ceased operations after over 20 years in business.
" don't know what to do, my money is lost", said Carolyn.
On December 3rd, Shoe of a Different Color filed for Chapter Seven bankruptcy protection leaving many customers like Carolyn with far more questions than answers
Carolyn said she was told two weeks ago that her dress had been ordered, but a check with the dress manufacturer found the store had not placed any orders since August. About 5 miles away another longtime Fort Wayne business also closed without warning. Stellhorn Wash N Go also filed for bankruptcy after 12 years in business. Zoe Zefo purchased a book of wash passes just 6 weeks ago, for her it's now the small amount of money she's out, it's the principal.
These two examples likely won't be the last we see, business bankruptcy filings are up 42 percent compared to last year. Mike Coil of the better business bureau says the biggest change in the last 6 months has been that some medium and larger companies have started filing for bankruptcy. In the case of the two companies we featured, Chapter 7 is a "liquidation" bankruptcy, meaning, they're ceasing operations, customers like Carolyn can must file through a bankruptcy court if they hope to recover any losses.
The Better Business Bureau has listed both companies on it's website and has information on how customers can file claims. As for Carolyn, she's had to order the same dress from another shop, which should arrive in time for her daughter's wedding in March. Our efforts to reach the owners were unsuccessful. As businesses struggle, it's important for consumers to protect themselves as best they can, one simple way is to use credit instead of cash when possible, For Zoe, her loss won't discourage her from supporting local businesses when they need it.
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