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Crawford Furniture files for bankruptcy protection; Company still plans to honor all orders

Crawford Furniture Manufacturing Corp., a 127-year-old furniture manufacturer and retailer, has filed for bankruptcy protection but says it plans to honor all orders.

The Jamestown company submitted a "bare bones" Chapter 11 filing for bankruptcy protection Thursday afternoon.

A hearing date has not yet been scheduled, but the case will eventually go before Carl L. Bucki, the chief Judge for the United States bankruptcy court, Western District of New York. Two separate filings covered the retail and the manufacturing sides of the business.

Crawford said it anticipates it will be able to fulfill all current sale orders, and that all manufacturer and extended warranties will remain in force.

Michael Cappa, the company's president and chief executive officer, said bankruptcy has been "in the back of [his] mind," as the company struggled through financial difficulties during the past four or five months.

Furniture orders, through Crawford vendors and its retail outlets, have slowed drastically during the recession, Cappa said. In addition, the company's medical insurance costs increased by 30 percent, he said.

"Everything hit me all at once," Cappa said.

Customers complained of long delayed orders, as Crawford said its lead times doubled from six weeks to about 12 weeks. Online consumer reviews showed pages of disgruntled customers, some of whom said they had been waiting more than four months for furniture they had paid thousands of dollars for in full.

The company has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau due to 38 complaints filed against the business, 28 of which have gone unaddressed.

Crawford closed its manufacturing facility Aug. 15 and laid off workers.

"I had to close it temporarily to get out of this plight," said Cappa.

Cappa found himself locked out of his Hamburg store and Cheektowaga warehouse last week after missing rent payments to landlord Benderson Development. Those two locations reopened Friday.

Crawford has retail outlets in Amherst, Hamburg, Lakewood and Lockport and offices in Jamestown and a warehouse in Cheektowaga.

Crawford is the last solid-wood furniture manufacturer left in Jamestown. The area was formerly home to the second-largest wood furniture industry in the nation because of its location in what was then a densely forested southwestern New York State.

"During these difficult economic times, Crawford Furniture will continue to labor and find a way to keep selling a great American-made product," said the company in a statement.

Customers with questions can call 661-9100.

email: schristmann@buffnews.com