COLDBROOK, N.S. – A former Leon’s sales associate says employees were blindsided and are still in shock after the Coldbrook and Bridgewater franchise locations abruptly closed Jan. 3.
Tamilyn Brown was hired on at the store in April 2013 and says “things were wonderful” when she began, until the franchise opened a second location in Bridgewater.
“It was then that things started to decline. They were not able to sustain themselves financially, and it continuously drew down our store,” she says.
Brown says employees were notified in early December the Leon’s corporation would assume control over both locations, news she says was welcomed by employees who’d “stuck it out” at the store and stayed on with the owners.
“We would have been able to pull stock from Dartmouth and wouldn’t have had to go directly to the manufacturers, so wait times for customers would have been nulled – it was just exactly what we wanted it to go back to,” she says.
But Brown says many sales associates began seeing question marks in December, when things changed.
“The trucks weren’t coming, questions weren’t being answered,” she said, adding that they felt wary of selling furniture to customers. She also says “the floors were bare” inside the store ahead of its abrupt closure.
“We didn’t want to sell. I was straightforward with all of my customers about that,” says Brown, who says her earnings came solely through commission.
“We were hopeful that once the store went corporate, things would be better. So to find out things would get worse, it was hard.”
Brown says she was informed by a colleague at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 2 the store was closed – news that, she says, “floored” all store employees.
“Everybody was crying – every phone call, every text message – everyone was devastated,” she says.
“We’re all grieving, because we were such a close-knit family.”
The hardest part, says Brown, was the lack of notice employees received of the store’s closing.
She says employees have not yet been allowed to return to the store to collect their belongings, and do not currently have access to paperwork and information necessary for employment insurance applications.
She says her medical coverage through Leon’s will also run out at the end of January.
Brown and her former coworkers have been supporting each other through an online group message they set up as they all navigate future employment opportunities. She says she heard a couple had found jobs, but the majority remain actively searching.
“Had we been told in advance, or called in for a meeting, or given some sort of heads-up – that would have helped. To be blindsided, that was one of the hardest parts of all of this,” says Brown.
She also says she wants to thank the former owners and is "grateful" for everything they did to support their employees.
"None of us regret sticking it out," she says.
Leon’s has responded to Kings County News’ request for comment with the following statement:
“The Coldbrook and Bridgewater stores are independently owned and operated and, as such, we can’t speak to the reason for the closure, but we can confirm we will be servicing all Leon’s customers out of our Dartmouth SuperStore. We can assure you that customers will receive the highest standard of service that has made us Canada’s choice for home furnishings over the last 110 years. Customers will be contacted directly by our Dartmouth Corporate store and if they would like to speak to someone immediately they can contact us toll free at 1-800-565-5201 or the store at 902-468-5201.”