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Busy Beaver Home Centers Inc., the Pittsburgh-based home-improvement chain that suddenly closed its three Buffalo stores last month, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection Thursday.

The company said it filed for bankruptcy to restructure its debt as it endures a seasonal cash shortage that had not been eased by the chain's moves to trim its administrative staff and close its unprofitable stores in the Buffalo area and in Boardman, Ohio.

Charles C. Bender, Busy Beaver's president and chief executive officer, said the bankruptcy filing was the chain's "best alternative" after it was unable to line up additional credit to finance its seasonal cash needs.

"The bank which had helped us in the past by extending a line of credit for our seasonal cash needs refused to do so, and instead, exacerbated the situation by making the unusual demand to speed up payments on the loan principal," Bender said.

The chain's core stores in the Pittsburgh area remain profitable, Bender said. The company has 12 stores in western Pennsylvania and in Niles, Ohio.

Bender said Busy Beaver executives have been meeting with its suppliers in an attempt to work out extended payment terms.

Busy Beaver closed its stores in Hamburg, Amherst and Lancaster without notice on Nov. 5 and began shifting the merchandise in those stores to its other outlets. It cited tough competition from other home-improvement chains.

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