Conflicting Fates Reported About Commerce Corp.

Two conflicting stories emerged last week about garden supply distributor Commerce Corp. Early in the week, a letter sent to Commerce employees from owner Richard Lessans was leaked multiple times to retailers. Lessans told employees that after unsuccessful attempts to sell the company, it would be closing December 28.

Then on December 27, Lessans told the Baltimore Sun: “The business is not closing. Someone will be answering the phones every single day. We are looking at many options for the future of the business.”

The article also quotes Lessans as saying that the company is deciding who of the 280 employees will need to be laid off.

“At this point we are looking at many options as to what to do as we go forward,” says Lessans in response to an email from Today’s Garden Center asking for further clarity. “We did have substantial layoffs last week, but we continue to ship from our three distributing centers.”

“I got the same letter sent to all the employees – the closing of the company on December 28 will result in immediate termination of many employees and ultimately all employees,” says a Commerce Corp. executive who wished to remain anonymous. As of this week, the executive is no longer employed with Commerce. “I scratched my head when I read the Baltimore Sun article.”

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