AG: Bath, Lewiston appliance store to file bankruptcy bid

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BATH — A longtime appliance retailer that abruptly closed its Bath and Lewiston stores last month will file for bankruptcy protection, according to an examiner in the Maine attorney general’s office.

Martha Currier, a complaint examiner in the AG’s Consumer Protection Division, said Wednesday that she has fielded 40 complaints after the Gediman’s Appliance stores suddenly closed, leaving customers’ deposits and undelivered appliances unresolved. The first formal consumer complaint was filed Sept. 23.

The stores are owned by Peter and Serrene Gagnon of Poland. Currier said she heard from their attorney Monday about their plan to file for bankruptcy protection.

“When a business files for bankruptcy, further efforts of this office through mediation are halted, as it will now be up to a trustee assigned by the federal government to disperse any remaining funds to both secured (banks and businesses) and unsecured (consumers) creditors,” Currier wrote Tuesday to concerned customers.

“Secured creditors are considered first in a bankruptcy and unsecured creditors last. Although possible, it is unlikely you will receive a full refund given the limited resources available after the secured creditors receive their funds,” she added.

The answering machine at the Lewiston store, at 1822 Lisbon St., has said, “We are currently out on appliance training and we will be back on Wednesday, Sept. 17,” before saying the voice mailbox was too full to take messages.

No one could be reached, either, at Gediman’s Bath store, at 67 Centre St.

Gediman’s has served Bath, Brunswick, Topsham, Harpswell, Lewiston, Boothbay, Auburn, Sabattus, Lisbon, Phippsburg and Woolwich since 1928, according to gedimans.com.

“People are complaining to us that they can’t get a hold of anybody at the store, and they’ve been hearing grumblings that they’re going out of business … and they’re afraid that they’re going to be out whatever the transaction was that they purchased in appliances from them without receiving them,” Bath Police Lt. Bob Savary said Oct. 2, adding that he had received three complaints and referred them to the AG’s office.

Last week, Currier said customers “just want their stuff. We’ve talked to people who have bought all the appliances for their house and now don’t have the appliances and they’re out the money.”

“This is the type of stuff the Attorney General wants to hear about,” she said. “You can’t just have a business shut down and not provide people with either their money back or the stuff that they’ve ordered. We want to try to figure out, how can we help him deal with his consumers?”

She declined to put a dollar amount on the missing deposits and appliances listed in the complaints.

Kathryn Skelton of the Sun Journal contributed to this story. Alex Lear can be reached at alear@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 113. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Other than a “Closed” sign at the front door, there was no information about Gediman’s posted at the Bath store on Wednesday, Oct. 8. Gediman’s Appliances, which has this store at 67 Centre St. in Bath and another in Lewiston, is expected to file for bankruptcy protection.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.