Just 24 hours after Cook County Sheriff’s police enforced a court order allowing a creditor to seize truckloads of inventory from the shuttered Trage Bros. appliance store on Madison, for sale signs appeared in the windows of the longtime family business.
John Trage, a third-generation owner of the retail store, declined to speak with the Review on Tuesday, Sept. 22 as he watched workers remove dozens of high-end appliances from his showroom. Two 18-wheel moving trucks and a pair of box trucks were parked behind the store for much of the day. In mid-July, the store was closed suddenly and without notice; meanwhile, members of the Trage family once involved in the day-to-day operations have filed personal bankruptcy claims. Those court filings indicate family members Bill Trage, John’s brother, and Judith Trage, the family’s matriarch, lost money on real estate investments.
Judith and John Trage are co-owners of the family business, according to state records. John Trage has not filed for bankruptcy protection.
The company behind the inventory seizure is TCF Inventory Financing, which specializes in providing credit to electronics and appliance retailers. According to the company’s Web site, its headquarters are in Hoffman Estates, but the operation is a subsidiary of TCF Financial Corporation in Minnesota.
On Sept. 1, the company filed paperwork in Cook County Circuit Court in an effort to recover more than $214,600 from Trage Bros. The company had three separate contracts dating back to July 2007 with limited liability companies run by John Trage and Lauren Trage.
Creditors argued in June 2009 that the Trages had failed to pay some $81,664 after selling various appliances in the store. The Trages disputed that claim, according to court records, and said they had sold only enough inventory to be on the hook for $40,000. A payment of $38,000 was quickly handed over, but no explanation of the discrepancy was offered, creditors claimed.
Then, from early July, the lenders made at least 18 attempts to contact John Trage and received no response. Visits to the Madison Street store revealed the doors were locked and the lights turned off.
At the scene of last week’s court-ordered seizure was Mark Allen, a Des Plaines resident and former customer of Trage Bros. Allen, who does condo rehabs in the area, said he had purchased several appliances through the store before making his last purchase of a $5,700 range this summer. His check was cashed, said Allen, but the stove was never delivered.
He learned of the court order through a salesman with whom he had a good relationship.
“My stove is actually a floor model, so it’s sitting in the window,” Allen said. “I work out that way sometimes and every time I drive by, I’m like, ‘oh, there’s my stove.'”
Ilona Zwierski, an Oak Park resident, said she, too, failed to receive delivery of appliances purchased for her home. In late August, she filed suit in hopes of recovering $11,475.
“I would prefer the money at this point, but I would take the appliances,” Zwierski said.
As for the potential sale of the property at 7440 Madison, John Spillane, the real estate broker handling the listing, said the storefront signage went up Sept. 23. Spillane said the building had not been pitched to potential buyers prior to that date.
“I think it’s going to garner a lot of attention,” Spillane said.
In addition to the 8,000-square feet of commercial space on the first floor, the building also includes four one-bedroom apartments and a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor. The asking price of $1.6 million does not include any remaining inventory.