A huge sign across the Dunlaps store front in Early declares the longtime department store is closing, but officials with the store released no further information Thursday.
Instead, officials at the Heartland Mall store referred all calls to the corporate office in Fort Worth. Calls to that number were not returned by regular business closing time.
The store began posting clearance sale signs earlier this month. Despite rumors the entire 38-store chain was closing by mid-June, and a promise from a company spokesman at the Fort Worth office that a news release was forthcoming, no other information has been made available.
On Sunday, the wording on signs advertising the stores clearance had been changed to include a “Store Closing” banner. Newspaper advertisements made similar announcements.
According to the placards posted in front of the store and also hand carried signs at several locations in Brownwood and Early, everything in the store is marked down 30 to 60 percent from its original price.
Heartland Mall Director Charlotte Parrack was not at work Thursday due to an illness, but an official at the mall office said that office was also “waiting to find out what’s going to happen.”
Parrack had announced at a commissioner’s court meeting earlier in the month that as of July, for the first time in Heartland Mall’s 26-year history, the mall would be at 100 percent occupancy. Dunlaps is not one of the original stores at the mall, and without checking official records, a mall spokesperson did not know how long the store had been open there.
The Dunlap Company was founded as a general store around 1890 by H.G. Dunlap in what is now Wagoner, Okla. Dunlap and his three sons grew the company to include 20 stores in the late 1800s and early 20th century.
The company’s storied history includes at least one other near closing, but in 1921, Retha Martin, a Dunlaps’ manager turned the last remaining store profitable again.
Various newspapers where those stores are located have reported that though “Store Closing” and clearance sale signs have indicated the company is liquidating all of the stores, no official word from the Fort Worth office has been given.