Since August, Hermiston residents have puzzled over the fate of Radio Shack. A note on the door of the store on Highway 395 says that, due to theft, the store will be closed until further notice. But now, after bankruptcy and the unlikelihood that someone will purchase the franchise, it appears the store is closed for good.
John and Desiree Schoen, who live in Enterprise, bought the store in 2001. The Hermiston Radio Shack was the Schoen's third - they have owned Enterprise's Radio Shack since 1997, and opened a new store in La Grande in 2000. The Hermiston store was a success until about three years ago, when sales started to drop because of, among other things, the loss of customers to the Internet.
The La Grande store suffered even more than Hermiston's. Business got so bad the Schoens decided to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which would have allowed them to keep at least one of their businesses open.
The Schoens had plans to sell the Hermiston building when burglars broke into the store and made off with a great deal of merchandise.
The Schoens closed the store immediately and, a week later, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which forced them to relinquish all of their businesses.
"It's been a difficult process to let go after working so hard to build the business," John Schoen said. "When the burglary happened it was like the last straw."
Schoen said he could not sell the franchise because changes in Radio Shack's franchise rules has "basically made it impossible" for a buyer to purchase an existing franchise.
Hermiston's Radio Shack is now in the hands of Community Bank. Representatives for the bank would not comment on the case. When it closed, Hermiston's Radio Shack employed four people.
Hermiston Police Lt. Jason Edmiston said he could not say what was stolen during the burglary or how much the merchandise was worth. The crime is under investigation, he said.
"There are still a lot of people we've got to talk to and I don't want to tip our hand," he said.
The Wallowa County Chieftain contributed to this story