TV retailer Ken Crane's goes dark

Recession cited as rationale for closing last six stores

Ken Crane's, a California retailer of high-end television sets for six decades, is calling it quits.

Citing the worst recession since the company was founded in 1948, Ken Crane's said Friday that it will shutter its last six stores after a liquidation sale ends in 60 days.

The closure comes just four years after the company experienced its best year ever, growing sales by more than 40% in 2006.

In January, Ken Crane's closed four of its 10 stores and laid off 100 of its 175 employees, an ill-fated effort at downsizing that failed to save the company.

Crane's boasts more than 100 flat-screen and home-theater TV systems and had been the exclusive California retailer of Panasonic's massive 103-inch plasma HD, the biggest TV set in its category.

A spokeswoman said bankruptcy was not viable but they will consider buyout options.

Ken Crane founded his company with a $3,500 loan to buy a radio store. Although radio was a thriving media, he embraced TV, a risky proposition at the time, but one that paid dividends.

In 2005, Ken Crane was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, a few years ahead of Steve Jobs, Paul Allen and Warren Lieberfarb, the former Warner Bros. executive who was instrumental in the creation of the DVD.

The six stores closing are in Torrance, Hawthorne, Encino, Pasadena, West Los Angeles and Westminster.

Said company president Casey Crane: "In the past, we have been able to weather these kinds of economic storms because people tend to stay home more, tap into their home equity, upgrade their home entertainment systems and wait for conditions to improve. Unfortunately, the combination of home foreclosures, tight lending policies and high unemployment combined to create the biggest recession in our company's history."