Carrie Rengers

Barrier's bankruptcy forces asset liquidation

Barrier's , which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday, is moving ahead with a liquidation sale starting Monday and will close after the sale ends in early January.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Dale Somers approved the sale during a Wednesday hearing.

"We're here today because of the unfortunate and untimely death of Jay Barrier ," bankruptcy attorney Ed Nazar said during the hearing.

Barrier, grandson of Carl Barrier who founded the jewelry and gift shop in 1933, died following an accident one year ago this week.

Nazar told the court that a lack of a succession plan coupled with a difficult economy and changing market conditions prompted the bankruptcy.

Barrier's has $938,788 in liabilities and $2,815,582 in assets.

The liquidation is expected to bring $2.5 million in sales, of which $1,182,972 is projected to be net profit.

Idaho-based Marsden Brothers Promotions will handle the sale. Marsden's Katherine Mitchell said the sale initially will offer merchandise 30 to 70 percent off retail prices.

Discounts could go steeper as the sale goes on. Mitchell told the court that some items that don't sell, which she said are known in the industry as "dogs," will sell for below cost.

Also, as Barrier's stock is depleted, Marsden will bring in new pieces for sale to keep the shelves full. But that's not the only reason.

"Barrier's is a high-end store," Mitchell explained about the "gorgeous" pieces the store sells. "We bring in merchandise for the everyday people."

Intrust Bank is the largest secured creditor and has a lien on Barrier's collateral for about $400,000.

As sales come in, Intrust will be paid weekly. Then, about $38,000 in taxes will be paid.

Finally, after the sale concludes, unsecured creditors will be paid. The plan is to pay them in full. If there's not enough money, then creditors will be paid on a percentage basis.

Marsden expects to make more than enough to pay creditors, though.

Somers wanted to know why Mitchell "thinks she can get that kind of money."

Mitchell explained that the majority of her company's sales make enough money to get clients out of debt.

The sale will include $344,000 in fixtures and equipment.

Somers also approved the honoring of Barrier's gift cards and bridal exchanges during the sale.

He noted that "brides could change your sale." If their exchanges weren't honored, he said, "They could get television time."

But he wondered about the gift cards.

"We want to keep in good graces with the community," Nazar explained.

"But that's if you're an ongoing business," Somers said. He then noted, though, that perhaps customers who came in to redeem gift cards would then spend more in the store.

Rewarding — and sad

Somers may wonder about why Barrier's is striving to keep in good graces with the community, but reputation means a lot to Mary Ellen Barrier .

Barrier has increased her presence at the store since her son's death.

"We have tried to run a top-notch, first-class business," she says.

And that's why the family decided not to sell the business.

"You just don't have any control over a business once it's sold," Barrier says.

Also, she says, these days people are much more casual in their jewelry, clothes and dinnerware — especially compared with the more formal Barrier's.

"It just seems that it's quite a different world," Barrier says.

"It's just fine. Nothing can go on forever.... We would rather have people remember us as we have been — an important part of the retail establishment in Wichita."

Barrier's has been full of shoppers since Have You Heard? reported the bankruptcy Monday. Many of those people have told Barrier how much the shop has meant to them and the community.

"It has been very, very rewarding," she says, "as well as very, very sad."

Here in River City

Earlier this year, River City Paint moved from a 110-square-foot office downtown to a 2,700-square-foot building on the southeast corner of Maple and Meridian.

Now, the company's new showroom is ready.

"It's kind of a new concept," says owner Tony Lynch . He says the idea is to showcase "things that customers... don't traditionally see from a paint contracting company."

Since it opened in 2005, the business has done a lot of different work, including exterior and interior painting, faux painting and murals.

"We kind of have a little bit of everything here," says artist Tracey Weaver .

But River City never had a way to conveniently show customers its work before now.

The new showroom has a 16-foot mural near its entrance and offers before-and-after pictures of its work along with samples of its floor finishes.

Customers can visit the showroom now, and there's a grand opening Nov. 6.

Tweet of the week

"Norm Macdonald came in and ordered a carrot juice! How cool is that?"

—A Wednesday tweet on Twitter from Zumo Juice & Java (@zumo(-)juice ) in Bradley Fair about MacDonald, who is appearing at the Loony Bin this week

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