JOLIET – Grant’s Appliances, which had a 90-year history in Joliet, appears to have shut down.
The Joliet store, one of six in the company, was closed Thursday with a sign on the door saying “Temporarily closed for inventory.”
But there were no signs that the store, which started in Joliet more than 90 years ago and had a unique place in the city’s retail history, was going to reopen.
No one was available at the Joliet store. No one answered or returned multiple phone calls to the company. Attempts to reach anyone involved with the business on Thursday were unsuccessful. And people outside of the business did not know what had happened.
Joliet resident Tim Brophy, a former city councilman whose brother worked for the store, said he learned from his brother Wednesday night that the store closed.
“I bought a dishwasher down there, and I was supposed to pick it up Tuesday,” Brophy said. “I didn’t get out there Tuesday. Now I’ll be one of those people standing in line.”
Brophy said he called his brother Wednesday to say he would be late picking up the dishwasher and got a call back that night from his brother, who said the store had shut down.
Joliet resident Marion Fuller came to the Grant’s store on Republic Avenue on Thursday to pick up a washing machine. He said the store was supposed to call him at 6 a.m. about delivering it. Fuller never got a call and drove out to the store to find out what was happening.
“They were supposed to call me and tell me about the washing machine,” he said.
All Fuller learned was what he saw on the sign claiming the store was closed for inventory.
In addition to Joliet, Grant’s has stores in Aurora, two in Downers Grove, Orland Park and Merrillville, Ind.
The company had expanded from its early days as Grant’s Hardware on Collins Street. The store then had wooden floors and a unique retailing style in which merchandise had no price tags and customers would bargain with sales people for the best deals.
Grant’s deals were good enough that the store built a customer base that spread through the Chicago market basically by word of mouth.
That changed in recent decades after the Grant family sold the business. Grant’s built itself into a regional chain and marketed itself with Chicago regional advertising.