Closing: An Employee Report From Inside The Wilson's Leather Bloodbath

Reader L is an employee of Wilson’s Leather and has the following to report from inside the liquidation. Everything and everyone must go.

Here’s the most important take away. Now that L’s store has been taken over by a liquidator the prices are actually higher than before. Don’t fall for this so-called “sale.” Apparently, it’s just CompUSA, but with coats.

I’ve been at a Wilson’s Leather store for over a year when we were told about the closings. Since nobody has reported it yet, here’s how it all actually went down and certain points that makes all this even worse.

1. On 2/13, there was no indication whatsoever about what would happen the next day. We were sent the usual e-mails and price changes, as well as shipments.

2. Some new sign kits showed up on 2/14 (Valentines Day) and my manager knew immediately what they were. (They had the signs with the “Everything Must Go” wording on them.) She called out District Manager and asked him about it. He knew nothing and made some calls. They told him everyone would be told in a conference call at 3:00PM. Otherwise, they told him nothing. It’s always fun when signs stating you’re going out of business arrive before you’re told you’re going out of business.

3. The conference call consisted of them basically firing almost all their Regional and District managers (including ours) and telling stores they were being liquidated effective immediately. The best part was them thanking everyone who was now pretty much fired for being loyal employee’s. Nothing was said about severance or unused vacation time, etc. And that was it. We–or any other cut store–had no real ties with Wilson’s anymore. We were sold to a liquidator and they were taking over day-to-day operations from here on out. We received an e-mail listing all the stores that had been closed and a really vague FAQ about what was happening and why. That was the last communication to or from the Wilson’s corp. to our store.

4. The signs are up, the tags were put on everything and we get to deal with customers who are angry that we can no longer accept returns or exchanges on anything regardless of when they made the purchase. Not to mention that the prices now (since the liquidator took over–who we haven’t even seen yet, by the way) are higher than they were before the closing. So consider that a heads up to anybody planning to buy anything.

The only parts of this that anger me more than anything else are these facts:

-We have NO idea when we’re being closed. The guy could show up at any time, say thanks for working, and shut the store down. We’re just standing there waiting for the other shoe to stomp us flat.

-Despite e-mails to Human Resources, we’ve heard nothing about severance. If it actually happens and is not worth even getting, you’ll be hearing security gates shut all across the country.

-My boss, who is the sweetest, most honest woman I’ve ever met in my life, has been a manager for about 14 years and trained the majority of the managers in other stores in our area, was let go without warning. There are people out there who were with them even longer who were dropped as well.

Everyone in the store considered each other family since we were always together and hanging out. My manager gave me a job when nobody else would and became probably the best friend I’ve ever had. Though I’m angered that all my coworkers are now left in the lurch, I’m especially pissed about the way she was told. I couldn’t even speak when she was left in tears over this.

So thats the real story behind the closings. Nobody had any warning, no indication, not even a rumor of anybody being shut down. I’m sure other ex-employee’s of companies have similar or worse stories about their closings, but I didn’t work for them. This is a job I actually enjoyed doing taken from me without so much as a kiss.

Thats it.

Our condolences to the folks at Wilson’s Leather. A big hug from the Consumerist to all of you.

Comments

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  1. sickofthis says:

    “We’re just standing there waiting for the other shoe to stomp us flat.”

    Very poetically put. My sympathies to all the employees affected by this closing and the extremely insensitive approach that’s been taken.

  2. forever_knight says:

    please tell us that you and the other employees walked out of the store in protest!

  3. weakdome says:

    Maybe the leather they were using was from the cows that just got recalled?

  4. Black Bellamy says:

    If that’s your first job, then be aware that pretty much all jobs from here on will end just like this. Without even a kiss.

  5. stephenjames716 says:

    well that blows…sorry to hear that

  6. ptkdude says:

    I thought they had to give you 60 days notice *OR* pay you for 60 days (or a combination of the 2, such as 30 days notice + 30 days pay) when this sort of thing happens.

  7. Shappie says:

    @ptkdude:

    I thought it all depended on the state. Maybe where they are you can just pack up and go.

  8. shan6 says:

    @forever_knight: That would be a nice statement, but most of them probably needed every hour they could get.

  9. Gabinha says:

    I wish they would have walked out, every single one of them and left the store there, open with no one inside.

  10. forever_knight says:

    @shan6: wishful thinking i guess.

  11. SarcasticDwarf says:

    @forever_knight: Won’t happen because everyone is hanging in there hoping to get a severance package of some kind…which is probably why they have heard nothing. By the time they announce that nobody will be getting anything all the stores will have shut down.

  12. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @ptkdude: I’ve never heard anything even remotely like this. Of course that could be because Florida is an “At-Will” employment state.

  13. HOP says:

    take it out in merchandise…..

  14. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @ptkdude: Says who? Any job I ever had stated on the offer that “This position is “at will,” meaning the employer or employee may terminate employment at any time, for any reason, without any notice.”

    Unless the employee had a specific contract with the employer (which is never the case in a retail position such as this), then they employer has the right to simply let them go.

  15. Sukie in the Graveyard says:

    as a former Wilson’s Leather employee – I am very happy this chain is shutting down.

    Your experience with your manager is in NO WAY similar to my experience.

    You are waiting to find out you are getting fired. I had to come to work (assuming a normal work day) to be told “Go home, we don’t need your services anymore” My manager AHN-dre-AH (it actually read Andrea) was a complete and total seed of Satan.

    I hope you, Reader L, can find as nice a job as you seemed to have there. Good Luck.

  16. alice_bunnie says:

    @ptkdude:
    Depends upon where you live. Some states are “at will” employment states and don’t regulate employment that much.

  17. Bay State Darren says:

    Why did this have to happen when I’m broke?! I love leather, although I’m guessing their merch still would be overpriced in this fire sale.

  18. braindesign says:

    @forever_knight: with armfuls of *free* leather goods

  19. rphoenix says:

    PTKDUDE, you are mistaking America with a more enlightened country. Unless you are a member of a Union (few of us are) you have almost no rights when it comes to termination. Some states are better than others, but generally they can fire you for no reason and give no severance. Sure you might get unemployement (the employer had to pay into that fund), but it is really next to nothing in most states (and they tax your unemployment). Welcome to the new economy where people do not matter…

  20. Nighthawke says:

    There is no news on their website whatsoever about the closing of 160 mall stores and cutting up to 1000 jobs, both part-time and full.

    [www.bizjournals.com]

    That’s a cold piece of work they did. It’s almost on par with those 700 pink slip emails that RadioShack sent to their employees a couple of years back.

  21. Caprica Six says:

    @HOP: Agree with HOP. Then sell it on eBay!

  22. Sabrina Anna says:

    I used to love them… That really sucks for the employees. As an HR professional, all I can advise is to stay on the company’s HR department and try to get information out of them. Call every day! Good luck!!!

  23. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I was just looking for a handbag at their website today (I have got many terrific bags there) and noticed that despite a BIG HUGE CLEARANCE SALE going on, the prices are higher there as well. So much so that I noticed it even though I didn’t remember about the GOOB thing.

  24. loganmo says:

    Too bad….I bought a cute lambskin jacket from wilson’s back in 2002 or so and it is still in pretty good shape.

  25. MPHinPgh says:

    @Sukie in the Graveyard: Off topic, I realize, but I had a manager named Andrea (normal pronunciation) once, and she was a bitch.

    Wonder if it’s something in the name?

    Back on topic, best of luck to all of the future former Wilson’s employees.

  26. NefariousNewt says:

    @Sabrinaanna: They always had such good buys on leather. Perhaps that’s why they’re going out of business. It’s a shame — they were about the only affordable leather I could find.

  27. luckybob343 says:

    If the writer is checking this thread, the best person to ask about your store’s closing would be the property manager of your particular shopping center/mall. Since they likely won’t willingly disclose it, call to “confirm the closing date” or something like that.

  28. theblackdog says:

    That has to be one of the most fucked up layoff stories I have ever read. I wish the employees good luck.

    Too bad they’re closing, I would have considered giving them more business as I bought a really nice leather jacket from them last summer.

  29. bohemian says:

    If I was one of these employees I would be worried about someone coming through with a paycheck while they are closing down. If your now sort of employees of the liquidator and Wilson’s isn’t taking your calls that doesn’t bode well. Someone might want to make an inquiry call to the state labor board about this to get them in on things.

    The only thing worse that getting let go with no notice is being screwed out of your last paycheck.

    It seems like employers giving notice to employees has gone the way of pensions and leaded gasoline. Yet employees are still expected to give two weeks notice?

  30. warf0x0r says:

    @BayStateDarren: omg, I love your avatar! Why didn’t I think of that >_

  31. SchecterShredder says:

    Wow, that was a sad story. That’s the way it goes in corporate America though. Hope you left with an armful of leather goods. My response to situations like this is to steal everything I can.

  32. Sudonum says:

    @Jaysyn: @aaron8301: @rphoenix:
    According to the WARN Act [www.doleta.gov] I’m not sure if this situation qualifies. Technically they haven’t been layed off…. yet.

  33. girly says:

    I knew a lot of stores were closing, but the title of this post still freaked me out because I thought there was yet another mall shooting.

  34. Way back in the day, before I had valuable job skills, and I was the manager of Egghead store #103, we found out from our customers that we were closing. Our customers (some Wall Street types) would come in and ask how sales were, because they’d heard through the grapevine that they were closing some stores and they’d be sad to see us go. Two days later, company announced it was closing half of it’s retail outlets. Fast forward a year, customers come in, said their encomiums and asked when the sales started. We had no idea. And we were even profitable.

    It is better to be cool about this stuff (not steal stuff, not walk out). I sent a very nasty email to corporate about forcing us to recount inventory, and was called into work on my day off to be yelled at (actually, I had to drive about half an hour to another store to be yelled at). The next day, I arrived at work, was sent home. At home, on a Saturday, was a DHL with my severance pay. I cost myself a couple of grand by getting fired at the start of the close, and caused my staff a good deal of grief in expanded responsibility.

    I was 25. I was stupid. I’m smarter now.

  35. greatgoogly says:

    Chain Retail is about the worst place to work (I did it as a manager for years, before smartening up). Crappy hours, crappy pay, and you are treated like garbage when the end comes. If you are doing it part-time you might have a chance to keep your sanity but otherwise I would strongly advise anyone working retail to start designing your exit strategy so that you can leave on your terms, not the companies.

  36. Crymson_77 says:

    @luckybob343: That is a beautiful bit of social engineering! Love it!

  37. CPC24 says:

    Gordon Brothers strikes again!

  38. erratapage says:

    You probably won’t be getting any severance. I recommend looking for a new job right away. The truth is that the employer owes you as much loyalty as you owe the employer (which is far less than the employer wants you to think you owe them).

  39. Scudder says:

    @ptkdude: What you’re probably thinking about is the WARN Act. This does not apply to distressed companies though.

  40. @Sudonum, et all: Employment Training Administation (doleta) is not the right agency for “I got jacked out of pay.”
    Employment Standards Administration is. Specifically, the Wage and Hour Division.
    [www.dol.gov] for general information about WHD.
    [www.dol.gov] to find your closest ESA/WHD area office.

    /Employed by DOL, having spent 5 months in ETA and 4 in ESA on rotations, but not WHD.

  41. morganlh85 says:

    Are ALL Wilson’s closing? Or just certain stores?

  42. brennie says:

    @luckybob343: excellent idea. You probably wouldn’t even have to mention Wilson Leather when you call the prop mgr. In fact, don’t. Identify yourself as a potential retailer and ask what they have coming open in the next 3-6 months.

    I wouldn’t quit yet. Corporate is praying you do so they don’t have to worry about unemployment. Look for something else, surely, but don’t close the door on your unemployment benefits. In Florida you can’t collect if you quit regardless of circumstances.

  43. jdame says:

    @ptkdude: That is the case when the employeer employs over a certain number of people.

  44. SaraAB87 says:

    I will have to make sure myself and my family do not buy anything from these closing stores! I do not want to support liquidators nor do I want to support a company that did this to their employees.

  45. Sudonum says:

    @PotKettleBlack:
    So hypothetically speaking, if these employees (say 500+) had been let go from Wilson’s due to the whole chain closing, and they did not get 60 days notice, would they fall under the WARN Act?

  46. Vicky says:

    Reminds me of my first job out of college – at Enron in fall of 2001. <shudder>

  47. savdavid says:

    Most chain stores do not care about their employees except as a liability. They are considered a cost of doing business, not an asset.

  48. yesteryear says:

    another reason i’m glad to have my secure, public sector job. this is really abominable. i’ll tell my leather daddy friends not to shop there.

  49. Sukie in the Graveyard says:

    @MPHinPgh: my manager was dead set on having her name pronounced like a french bitch with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. But she was very much not french… more like trash of the trailer type. (I didn’t work there for very long…)

  50. Bay State Darren says:

    @warf0x0r: Thanx. I’m just amazed nobody beat me to it on this site.

  51. cynicality says:

    The liquidators in these situations really suck. They expect total loyalty from the employees and give nothing at all in return – no information, no recognition, nothing. Wait until they ship in a bunch of NEW goods for you to stock and sell. Items below even Wilson’s standards. It’s disgusting.

  52. joellevand says:

    Wilson’s Leather corporate doesn’t care about employees in “underperforming” stores, period, and their definition of underperforming is totally subjective. I worked for them as a traveling assistant performance manager — my job was to go into a store as an assistant manager, under the manager who tended to go from store to store with me, and break sales goals into the 100% above average sale and items per sale goals. If the store didn’t perform under us, we moved on and the store was usually closed. I remember a tearful call from one former coworker who found out the store was closing when she came in one morning (and this was an airport store, so opening time was 6 am) and found the store’s merchandise had been packed up overnight (store closing was 6 pm). In twelve hours, corporate brought in employees from another district store, packed all salvagable full price merch, and shipped it out. The clearance and damaged goods were in boxes to go to the nearest outlet.

  53. Eilonwynn says:

    I went through a very similar “hey guys, we’re closed” situation at a restaurant I once worked at. I was the opener – 5:30 am. I got a call about 10:30 pm the night before, being told not to come in the next day – they had closed. Buttmunch boss woke me up to do it, too. (And this was in ontario, which is in no way, shape, or form, “at will”, but there’s a loophole which says that if someone comes in and re-hires everyone within a certain amount of time, you’re screwed out of however long they were closed worth of pay.) Living hand to mouth at the time, this did not impress me, and I won’t be working in the service industry ever again.

  54. curmudgeon5 says:

    I’m in management (not retail, thank god), and here’s what I can tell you from the management standpoint: There is no requirement to give you severance. When companies offer severance, it’s because they want something from you in return — such as signing a release saying you won’t sue (if there are any potential grounds for you to do so, which there aren’t here) or getting you to agree to stay on for a certain amount of time. You guys are already agreeing to stay on, which means they don’t have any incentive to give you severance. You are likely not going to get it, unless you’re somehow able to negotiate it…. but given that you can’t get them on the phone, I wouldn’t plan on it. My advice is to start aggressively looking for a new job now and get out as soon as possible.

  55. brennie says:

    @curmudgeon5: “I’m in management (not retail, thank god).”

    Really? you sure sound like a retail manager. The employees were calling HR for a variety of reasons. The writer mentioned unused vacation time for instance and your advice is not to plan on hearing from them. Your best advice to people soon to be laid off is that they start agressively looking for anther job? Brilliant insight. Just laser sharp. Way to look at this solely from a management perspective.

  56. FightOnTrojans says:

    A former co-worker of mine used to work at a place that bills itself as “the happiest place on earth.” A few years ago (late 90s), they hit some rough times and had to lay some people off. So they call him in on his day off to come help out with the layoffs (he was a security supervisor, and they were afraid some people might get violent). So he spends about twelve hours breaking the news to dozens of people and walking them out. Suffice it to say, it was a crappy day for him. Then, at the end of the day, they give him his walking papers also! WTF? By that time, the local paper had got wind of what was going on at the mouse-house, and a reporter was on hand to get his reaction as he was escorted out. His picture and story was the lead story on the local section of paper the next day. He was very eloquent in his assessment of how the situation was handled (basically, that the managers were a bunch of douchebags and they could all eat a bag of dicks). So, just goes to show you, no one is safe.

  57. rolla says:

    i’m surprised wilson’s lasted this long. I never saw people in there shopping for leathers and all of their styles were antiquated to begin with. Bye bye wilson’s, you will not be missed.

  58. Crymson_77 says:

    @FightOnTrojans: Love that last line, going to have to use that myself if I can ever find a time to do so!

  59. DeltaPurser says:

    I only know Wilson’s from the airports, but I’m sorry to hear about all the people losing their jobs… Like someone said: take it out in merchandise. Or better yet, forget to lock up one night…

  60. boxjockey68 says:

    @curmudgeon5: You sure you’re not in retail? No offense, but you do sound like some douchebag manager in retail. Some of these employees DO have money coming to them, I for one hope they get it.

  61. StevieD says:

    @boxjockey68:

    Isn’t the payout priority schedule:

    IRS

    State Taxes

    Employees

    Secured Creditors

    Unsecured Creditors

    ???

  62. boxjockey68 says:

    @StevieD: Yea, that sounds about right, hopefully there will be enough left to pay the employees at the very least the unused vacation & small severance. it sounds like a lose lose situation, what a shame.

  63. curmudgeon5 says:

    @brennie: You misunderstood me. (I manage a nonprofit, in fact … not that that necessarily indicates compassion.) I’m extremely sympathetic to the employees in this situation and think what the company is doing to them is outrageously unethical. However, they should know how the management is likely thinking, how severance works, etc. so that they can make better choices. Continuing to work thinking that at some point they’ll be offered severance might be a very bad choice, and they deserve to know what the other side is likely thinking, what’s required by law, etc. They probably aren’t going to be offered severance, and maybe not vacation pay — I don’t endorse that, but they need to be aware of that possibility so they can make better decisions to protect themselves.

  64. curmudgeon5 says:

    @boxjockey68: I hope they get the money they have coming to them too. But I’d rather they be fully informed and make good choices rather than making decisions based on what the company *should* do. The company, as we all know, might not do what’s right — in fact, likely won’t, given how they’ve handled it thus far.

  65. humphrmi says:

    Unpaid vacation time varies state by state. For instance, in Illinois (which is an at-will employment state) all accrued vacation time is payable upon termination, along with all due unpaid wages. However if the employer goes bankrupt, the employees become unsecured creditors behind everyone else, and are pretty much screwed.

    Since Wilson’s does business in pretty much every state, they’ve probably got attorneys working right now on figuring out their liability. Or they don’t care and figure they’ll fold before anyone can sue them. It’s bad news, no matter what.

    Keep calling HR; you won’t get anything if you don’t. But at the same time, better get working on your resume and get another job quick – don’t count on seeing anything from them.

  66. bombaxstar says:

    wow. this is reeeaally fucked up. =[

  67. JohnMc says:

    This is typical for industry now. The liquidator frees the company up for other opportunities As to the poster, my God start job hunting! You are in a strong position now, but once the liquidator lets you go you lose that strength. Move on it.

  68. azgirl says:

    Ok- having worked every spectrum of the job world from retail to corporate, manufacturing etc.. they are all out to screw you if they can. Are we shocked anymore? I feel bad for these folks, but they are no more exposed than the rest of us to this crap…

  69. photodude27 says:

    As a now former employee of CompUSA and the recent closings they have/are going through, this sounds earily similar. We heard first we were closing from the Wall Street Journal, Heard nothing concerning severence for 3+ weeks and when we did it was certainly not worth sticking around for. My suggestion to you is spend every second you can in finding a new job, but don’t screw yourself at your current positon because they can simply release you at any second. Fair Warning! There are really no rules to the game now cause the liquidators own everything, run everything and have the last say. As far as the prices, most retailers have sales and when the liquidators take over, sales end and they have a specific mark down strategy, basically because people pay the prices and they can use that extra cash to pay off debts of the company. It only gets worse!

  70. mrmarvinmiddleclass says:

    Well, if you’d like to make some extra cash, I’m sure the liquidator would pay you stand at an intersection holding an obnoxiously large signing proclaiming the greatest of the deals to be had. I recall the great scam that was the KMart liquidation a few years ago. I actually went into a store, and it was painfully obvious that they had just moved in merchandise that was not selling in other stores, and moved out the stuff that did sell. And then the deals weren’t that great. Being a former retail manager, my impression is that the employees no longer work for Wilson’s, so they might have lost nearly all emloyment rights, i.e. they were moved to probationary status at the liquidator’s company. But I’m not an employment lawyer.

  71. @Sudonum: By my reading of WARN (your link) it only applies when you have a minimum of 50 employees at a single site. The employees can be managers or line employees. They have to have all been employed for more than 6 months. I dunno how many staff work at your average Wilson’s but I’m gonna guess that it’s not 50 at any single storefront. 4000 hours a week works out to 100 FTE (full time equivalents). So, no I don’t think WARN is the applicable statute.

    On the flipside, if anyone gets shafted out of a final paycheck, especially if it’s systematic across the company, is, as I said, ESA’s Wage and Hour Division.

    FWIW: It’d be better to work with ESA anyway, as they are, theoretically an enforcement agency, while ETA doesn’t really enforce anything… they are more of a grant giving agency. ETA has the most money. ESA has the most FTEs.

  72. Oh yeah, if you’re not looking at college and a better job through education, your local One Stop has some job training and job search stuff that they will help you with. They can get you training for a high growth type job that doesn’t require a large amount of education. That’s what ETA is about. Whether you qualify for WARN or not, you might want to check out your local One Stop.
    [www.careeronestop.org]

  73. StevieD says:

    @mrmarvinmiddleclass:

    What you are describing with the moving of stock is completely correct and legal.

    The liquidation company usually is managing several liquidations at one time (several stores or even several similar companies) and it is common practice to move stock from store to store to the most desirable location to sell at the highest price.

    In addition, to keep the inventory viable, the liquidation company can usually buy MORE stock. There are legal limits to what can be bought, how many units and how long the liquidation sale may last.

    While the liquidation company is buying products the manufacturers will get a chance to sell (dump) last year’s models on the liquadator. The liquidators love buying up old stock because the ROI (return on investment) is so large. And manufacturers will often hold back last years stock from regular store sales knowing that a liquidator may be coming around in a month or so.

    For consumers this is both good and bad. Something simple, like a keyboard, who cares if you are buying last year’s model if the price is exceptionally good. But for software, clothing etc then last year’s models are not always the best.

    BTW, some of these liquidation companies have their own permanent staffs that they send from store to store. Many of those people are con artists in training and they will be very aggressive with trying to push products out the door. Since they are “in training” it is an excellent time to do some bargin basement price hunting. For example I bought nice padded folding metal office chairs for $1 each because the “in training” sales dude got overly aggressive with his sales tactics, got confused and then priced cases of padded chairs for the single unit price of plain metal chairs.

    So don’t boycott the liquidation sales, just keep a tight rein on your wallet and be ready to bounce when the price gets to your liking.

  74. XianZomby says:

    [www.corporate-ir.net]

    MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Feb. 15, 2008–Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. (NASDAQ:WLSN) today announced that it will embark on a strategy aimed at reducing its mall store base, aggressive cost cutting initiatives, and the launch of a new accessories store concept. As part of this initiative, the Company plans to close up to 160 mall locations that do not fit its go forward strategy. Concurrent with these closures, all remaining 100 stores in the mall division will be remodeled to a new “Studio” concept, which the Company has been testing since last fall in four different regions of the country. This concept will be a brand driven store for women focusing on fashion accessories. Plans are to complete all 100 mall store remodels by August of this year. In this process, approximately 938 store-related positions will be affected. Wilsons Leather Outlet Division will not be affected by this new mall store initiative.

  75. ninjatales says:

    The way the employees were treated is like how you would expect in a 3rd world country. Can’t believe how much has changed since the plentiful ’90s.

    But that’s just standard corporate practice unfortunately.

  76. boxjockey68 says:

    @curmudgeon5: Yea..I am sure we can ALL agree that very few companies do what they should do…How sad for the employees caught off guard. Guess it just goes to show, when working for some one other than yourself, do not trust anyone or anything corporate says…

  77. Major-General says:

    @Jaysyn: I’ve not even heard of that in employee friendly/anti-employer California. Except that here they would be required to pay vacation and accrued sick leave.

  78. cecilsaxon says:

    You are all doomed-

    Now you gotta wait for the baby boomers to retire or die to get a good job.

    Good thing I have mine now, I am no boomer and I’m quite healthy thank you- now get off my lawn.

  79. bdgbill says:

    First “The Bombay Company” and now Wilson’s? Where am I not going to shop at the mall now?

    I actually have a leather jacket I bought at Wilson’s over 10 years ago that still looks great. The last few times I looked though, Wilson’s was selling really cheap looking stuff made from little scraps of leather. The kind of stuff you can find in China Town for a third of the price.

    I suggest the poster take her severance from the stores inventory. The liquidator probably has little idea whats actually in the store.

  80. mike says:

    @Gabinha: I agree. If the higher-ups got fired, no reason for the peons to stick around. I guess though, at this point, Wilson’s Leather wouldn’t care since they already sold the place to the liquidator.

    The only one to lose out would be the liquidator.

  81. Bobg says:

    RE: The way the Managers were let go. Companies don’t care about employees-period. I worked for one company that fired a long time manager on Christmas Eve. They refused to let the manager remove any personal items; they sorted through everything in her office and sent what they considered “personal” to her home. The woman was a single parent with a child in college. No one had any idea that this was going to happen as her performance was excellent. Her replacement lasted five months.

  82. joeblevins says:

    Why so much complaining, EVERY company has to work like this. They aren’t making money, so why should they spend extra just trying to appease bottom level retail workers? They can hire unskilled labor tomorrow at lower wages, they have no incentive to take care of you.

    Get skills. And find a secure job, mall retail is not a great idea for a future.

  83. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Steal everything that’s not nailed down. I worked at a company once that treated us like that and by the end of the day the only thing left were some copper wires hanging from the ceiling and some unwanted printer toner.

  84. duckfat says:

    If the liquidators work like those that closed a store I worked at you’ll be offered two weeks severance if you stay to the bitter end. By the way though you won’t have health insurance during this time. It won’t be worth it, just go look for another job. Network with your fellow employees (especially the manager) and if she finds a job ask her for a reference at the same place. Good luck.

  85. MissTic says:

    @XianZomby: thanks for posting. So basically, they are going to keep “Studio” type stores open and lose the mall type stores that carry a full line of leather goods. I bet anything they decided that the airport stores were more profitable. They probably get more foot traffic. I’ve actually killed time in one and they did have some nice merch.

    I too have a leather coat from Wilson’s. I got it in 1993 and it’s still beautiful. They were the only place that carried a PXS (petite extra small) – it was a long coat.

    I’ve heard their quality has gone down so I don’t think I’ll miss them. Sucks for the employees though.

  86. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @aaron8301:

    Any job I ever had stated on the offer that “This position is “at will,” meaning the employer or employee may terminate employment at any time, for any reason, without any notice.”

    Unless the employee had a specific contract with the employer (which is never the case in a retail position such as this), then they employer has the right to simply let them go.

    While this is generally correct, it’s not true in all cases, and certainly not in the case of mass layoffs. The WARN Act requires that employees who are part of large scale layoffs or plant closings must be given 60 days notice or comparable salary. But there are a lot of exceptions and loopholes.

    I’d bet that they’re going to try to game the system – fire most of the managers now, and let the liquidators take over all or most of the stores. Get rid of more managers and remaining full time employees in a few months. As long as they keep the numbers below the WARN thresholds there’s no severance or notice necessary.

    just before the final closing of the stores, fire the handful of remaining full timers and all of the part timers. At this point it doesn’t matter much if they exceed the layoff threshold, because employees who average less than 20 hrs per week aren’t entitled to WARN protection.

    Assuming that they aren’t closing ALL their stores, that’s the end of that. No severance, no notice for anyone, and the remaining stores continue on with business as usual.

  87. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Sudonum:

    So hypothetically speaking, if these employees (say 500+) had been let go from Wilson’s due to the whole chain closing, and they did not get 60 days notice, would they fall under the WARN Act?

    Most likely they would. But if they tell 300 of them that they’re fired today and keep the rest until June, the ones fired today wouldn’t get WARN protection.

    Even if they are planning on giving most store employees 2 months notification (or pay), they won’t actually be doing that until two months before they actually close. So it may well be several weeks or months from now before it actually is an issue.

  88. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    I’d appreciate it if everyone could just mentally remove every occurrence of the word “actually” from my previous post

  89. deadlizard says:

    What the U.S. lacks is enterpeneurial spirit. You’d think someone
    who has so many years selling leather jackets would know by now how to
    run his own leather jacket store. Instead, they’re just staring at each
    other waiting for the other shoe to drop. People are too easily
    stupified by a steady paycheck.

  90. woodenturkey says:

    @joeblevins:
    “Get skills find a real job etc”

    WTF It takes some people a long time to pull them self up from poverty, and mall retail is how some do it. dont crap on someone else job, at least THEY ARE TRYING TO WORK! and not collect wellfair

  91. banmojo says:

    retail jobs are meant to get one through high school and college. after that you’d better be upper management or your life sucks!

  92. Kendra says:

    Typically, when an entire chain is closing and has been sold off – you might not get anything.

    As I found out on my first job and the entire department being fired.

    The Manager, had been there for 15 years – no severance or unused vacation.

  93. MrNCN says:

    It happens, it’s business and… it sucks.
    As a recent CompUSA employee during liquidation) I can tell you this:
    1 – Most of the people at corporate that you would usually deal with are struggling to (a) find anything out themselves and (b) keep their jobs too. Most of them are human and, be patient, they didn’t do this and they aren’t making the decisions anymore.
    2 – The rules have changed and the liquidators run the show now and, their guiding principle is “if you don’t like it (or they don’t like you) too bad.” If you’re lucky, you’ll get a grim reaper with a heart but, it’s not likely. Their job is to shut things down in an orderly fashion and get as much as they can for whatever crap you have left.
    3 – Begin looking for a job immediately but, be careful. if you even LISTEN to an offer from another (prospective) employer, you can lose whatever severance you are being promised. They concept being that the “severance” is to help you get through until you get another job. If you get an offer… you don’t need their help and, you don’t need their severance.
    4 – This sort of a situation doesn’t being out the best in people so, watch your back. With everyone in the same boat, BE CAREFUL WHO YOU TALK TO (and what you talk about). Everyone has a family to feed and, if throwing you under the bus gets them a few more days or a few more dollars, into the street you’ll go. It’s every man (or woman) for themselves.

    Lastly, to the consumers out there looking for a bargain:
    Most of the sale prices you are accustomed to seeing have back ended funding from the manufacturer to KEEP the prices competative. When a company announces that they are liquidating, the manufacturer pulls their funding. We saw that at Comp. Be patient and the prices will drop. Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE THE EMPLOYEES A HARD TIME! They are doing what they are told and it is what it is. You are bargain shopping while they are trying to figure out what they are going to do with their lives. ALL SALES ARE FINAL means no returns, no exchanges, no refunds no nothing. If they take back a crappy product from you, they just have to turn around and sell it to someone else.

    Rant over…

  94. Staci_Lynn says:

    I was one of the Wilsons Leather employees who was “feeling the love” this last Valentine’s Day when we all found out about the “new direction” the company was taking. I’ve been reading everyone’s comments and I can’t resist adding my own two cents.

    First of all, I don’t know for sure, but there are rumors going around that none of us are getting any kind of severance whatsoever. If this is true it would not surprise me. I expect no bonuses, incentives, or severance from Wilsons or the liquidators. It is saddening, although I have to say that I am more saddened for our store manager than for myself. Like Reader L, the woman that hired me on as her assistant manager has been with the company for something like 15 years! She was planning to retire with the company. Now she’s left with an uncertain future- no benefits, no retirement. I’m young. I’ll bounce back like nothing ever happened. I didn’t give a significant portion of my best years to a company that was going to throw me away like an old pair of socks, with nothing to show for all my years of hard work! I’m not saying she can’t bounce back; I’m just saying she’s no spring chicken anymore and it’s not going to be easy for her.

    That said. I’m not going to steal anything and I’m not going to walk out, although God knows sometimes I’m tempted. Especially yesterday, when I was left trying to sort through forty boxes of shipment, price changes, and help plan for the upcoming inventory the liquidators recently dropped on us. (An inventory which is probably going to last until the wee hours of the morning and is our second in so many months- we’re only supposed to have inventory twice a year.) To all the Wilsons associates- don’t steal. Take the moral high road and try real hard to believe in karma.

    Also- don’t blame the liquidators. None of this is their fault. They’re not the cause of any of this, and they have jobs to do, just like we do. Yes, since they’ve taken over, a lot of prices have gone up, we don’t get our employee discounts anymore, and the place looks like some kind of tacky carnival advertisement. But that’s nothing compared to what Wilsons has done- it was their bright idea to not accept any exchanges or returns, even from merchandise bought before Valentine’s Day. And it was their idea to not warn us of any of this, so that maybe we all could have used our discount on that coat or handbag we’d had our eye on.

    Just a couple more things before I sign off- joeblevins, you seem like a real d!ck. The people at my store are all professional and have plenty of skills. All of the associates are either enrolled in college or have full time day jobs; the other assistant manager and myself are both college educated and quite literate; and the store manager is a very nice lady who has invested a lot of time in her professional career. Don’t hold your nose up too high when you’re looking down at us poor peons in retail, or you might get a nose bleed. I f***ing hope you do.

    Also, just a side note, I agree that a lot of people named Andrea are stupid b!tches. What’s up with that?

    To all other Wilsons associates, I wish you the best of luck, and by the way, I did enjoy all those extra company emails on Valentine’s Day! Let’s try to fit in a few more of those before we totally go under!

  95. JeffusMaximus says:

    I just picked up my last paycheck today. I got a call on Valentine’s Day from one of the girls at work (who was nearly in tears) and she broke the news. I went in to see what was up and get the details. It was as bad (if not worse) as anyone imagines. They really took a big fat shit on us all. The email from corporate was so insulting that I had to laugh. “Thanks for all of your help.” “You’ve all been great.” Blah blah blah. It even reminded us, after telling us that our benefits were now cut off and everything, that they still needed our help through this “difficult time.” What a load of BS. Mike Searles, Adam Boucher and all of the other assclowns at corporate can kiss my ass.

    We were still going to stay on though, until the HilCo douchebag showed up and started slinging around total disrespect and belittling our team. We’ve all worked too hard and put in too much time to tolerate that kind of crap so we all walked. The idiot even called me six times to try and talk me into coming back. I didn’t even return his calls. After more than four years with the company I don’t need to deal with some dick walking in and telling me how to do my job and talk down to me and my team like we’re children.

    I heartily encourage everyone to avoid Wilsons and let that company die. They deserve it.

    (BTW, Staci, I’m glad you enjoyed the emails. I was the one who sent out the first “Can’t you all feel the love?” email and we all had a blast getting everyone’s responses back. We all really were family and it sucks to be thrown out like they did. Good luck to you and your team. I hope that HilCo treats you better than they treated us. Hang in there!)

  96. ladeefnduh08 says:

    To Staci_Lynn and JeffusMaximus… Thank you!

    I have been an employee of Wilsons for 4 years… My Store Manager has been with the company for 20+ years! 20+ years of loyalty and hard work just disregarded like it has no need of any gratitude…. As a few people have already said the only way to describe the people we work with is “Family” the majority of us started right when we turned 16 and have stayed since just as a once a week job besides our full time careers because we enjoy and take pride in our jobs and to have that taken from us so brutally is just baffling. The way that life has been in our store since the minute we come in that horrible day after… is best named hell on earth! When I came in on the 15th I was not ready to see what Wilsons had become…. Giant signs of pure distaste hanging from every panel of our ceiling…. Signs on every rack and fixture….. Which all were changed so many times that I think we went in a complete circle…. along with the inventory surprise one day receiving 170+ boxes of shipment and told that inventory was 2 days away.. Inventory went to 3am I hope none of yours went that long inventory is no fun to begin with…. not to forget the amount of hours for employees to work to achieve all of this and not go insane… While in the process were being bossed around in an unprofessional manner… asked questions like “why” we have given our 2 week notice… I have never felt so disrespected and mistreated ever in a job!

    There are just way to many accounts to write about that have happened since the 14th. In the end do what you need to…

    And the assholes that are leaving comments that demoralize our choice of employment… Screw you do you enjoy going into work everyday and actually get along with and know your fellow employees…. in our store at least we all do… its not common…. don’t shit on people that are already low and trying to stand back up!

  97. nellib says:

    @ladeefnduh08:
    I know exactly how you feel! I manage a wilsons leather and I might know who you are talking about. I walk into my store every time sick to my stomach but I still will let not my store go to hell. And I love my employees they are my family and I wish the best for them after this! I have been with the company 6+ years and when i first started we had a saying in the stock room We Sell Leather And Have fun Doing It! I put a post it not over have that said had and it was sad but true. My employees were suprised to know that I put that post-it note up but its the truth. Every year there was a change on product or sizes or QUALITY. Alot of us stuck around with their changes knowing that if we only had _________!( Like a basic womens cycle jacket that was cowhide with venting and a zip out liner ) But that is the past because we will be looking for new jobs!
    Tommorrow ( today )those of us who are sticking around have to give up our DMX players which is that WONDERFUL music we get to listen to. Now thanks to wilsons we get to listen to silence! Now we have basically no payroll!! They want us to work all day alone and close alone also! Working for the old wilsons was fun , working for Hilco is PRICELESS!!!!
    SORRY FOR MY RAMBLING GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF THOSE IN CLOSING STORES, AND BETTER LUCK to people in stores that are staying open (LOL)!!!!!!!

    Nelli 203

  98. dstone says:

    Hi;
    I’m a store manager for a Wilsons Leather. We are one of the stores that is not closing and is being converted to a “Studio Concept” Store. I’ve been with the company for 3 years now. I’d like to keep tabs on how things are working out with other Wilson’s stores that are getting the new merchandise to see how effective the company’s plans for the future are. Since they left so many without a clue of what was to happen that day of the conference call when so many were let go basically…. I’m so sorry for all the ones who have worked so very hard…. So what I want is a heads up here (other than what corporate tells us) as to how things are working out with this company. So far it has picked up with the new merchandise but at first a slow start. The designer purses are selling steady so far.. Any thoughts from anyone?

  99. JohnT1972 says:

    Yes I’m an investor and have been for many years in public companies. From what I understand Goldner Hawn made a large investment in Wilsons last summer in exchange for perferred stock in the company.. Goldner Hawn has a history of thring to acquire companies cheeply. Some of us in the investment field believe they made the investment and gained control over the company (Mike Sweeney is a Golder Man) to try to drive them into Bankruptsy by placing unfasionable merchandise (Under the Wilsons name) We know they also placed a Few poupular brand names in the Stores as well to compete with their own. Of course it looked much better than the Wilsons…. If Goldner Hawn succedes in driving Wilsons into Bankruptsy they will acquire the whole company because the rights in the perferred stock have a bankruptsey clause that basically garantees it. To bad employees and shareholders have to suffer for Goldner Hawn’s gain. Goldner Hawn is a private equity investment company the acquires other companies sometimes by nasty means. Also Illegal if we succede in proving their intent. So we’d like to hear from future Ex-Employees if they have something to add. Their may be a suit against Goldner Hawn…

  100. PlanetJanet says:

    Yes we have some info and are connected to other Employees. Contact me directly at d6325s@yahoo.com

  101. robin5540 says:

    First off, I’m not sure if this is addressed in other comments (as there are so many)but Wilson’s managers are actually getting a severance. It is NOT from Wilson’s, but the Hilco Liquidation place that had bought us over is giving us an “incentive” to stay.

    Second, I’ve worked for Wilson’s for about a year and a half. As a business major in college, I really analyzed the company. So here are a few things that happened which were completely rediculous.

    1. We started carrying Nylon and polyester coats. Who comes to a LEATHER store looking to buy nylon? No one. Especially when you can find it elsewhere for alot cheaper.

    2. We started carrying different brands – Calvin Klien, Guess, Kenneth Cole, Sean Jean. Though the coats were nice, Wilson’s should have stuck with their own branding since that was what people were looking for when they came into the store. To coincide with this, there was no marketing effort to introduce the new line of brands in the store except for store signs and word of mouth. The marketing department was screwed up too sending us signs that did not reflect merchandise we had in the store but a “lifestyle” they were to project. Wilson’s spent tons of money on signs that we would change at the very least once a week, and there were many upon many signs that we would never use at all.

    3. We had NO product during christmas. The whole month of december we did not recieve a single case of shipment though we begged for XL’s and other items. How can you be expected to meet sales goals when you don’t have the product or size the customer wants?

    4. They alienated their own customers by not sending us any cycle merchandise. Men only had 2 coats to choose from, while women had none. We BEGGED for over 2 years for vests, and didn’t get them. Finally now they are offering 3 styles on the website, but there is no reason we could not have had them in the first place. And we quit getting pants a long time ago, and skirts, which we had to turn many people away and into the department stores for these products.

    5.Along with anlientating their own customer, Wilson’s was trying to move toward a higher priced consumer market. This tactic is simply rediculous to say the least. Especially during this time. And Wilson’s is trying to do it again with thier new store “Studio” which will feature so called high end purses and accessories.

    My prediction: Wilson’s Leather will completely go out of business within the next few years. They can’t get out of debt, they can’t buy the right merchandie, and introduce new keepy trying new things without making anyone aaware. They don’t let anything last long enough to make an impression to see if it actually works. Besides that, we would change the sale like every 3 days, because they were too impatient to see if there were results. They are nothing but screw ups in the Home office, and will continue to do nothing to make the company money.

    And who needs to pay for a liquidator? Not that I am not happy with mine, I was fortunate enough to get a great easy going represtentative, but there was no use for it. All I’m thankful for is that unlike Wilson’s, Hilco is not giving customers what they want (ie. returning merchandise) Because Wilson’s would still let people. So just to let anyone who is going to work for “Studio” or stay that the oulets, You’ll be going out of business soon, and Don’t get a retirement plan from them, many people LOST their with this.

    Anyway, that was just a few of their problems. Here is a website that I completely agree with. If if does not take you to the wilson’s leather article, just type it in the search box.
    [www.ecracreative.com]

  102. JohnT1972 says:

    Thanks to all Wilson Employees for writing me directly who provided much information on the things they’ve seen with this company. Stay in touch and I have recorded your info and you will be contacted to take your statements. We’ll try to get a fair settlement for everyone involved from Goldner Hawn once bankruptcy is declared. From your accounts we believe we have enough to go forward with and win a major law suit against them.

  103. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why everyone gets emotional about a process that should be (and it sounds like in this case is) completely devoid of emotion.

    retail job = probably shouldn’t even be classified as work

    Unskilled labor should rightfully be at the mercy of the economy…you contribute the least.

    It is a fact of life that I can be fired at any time…stop whining about it. That is why I drive an 8 year old paid for car, live below my means and save money as much as I can.