Medford store manager says employees still doing their jobs.

This Christmas season will be the last for Linens 'n Things as it begins liquidation sales at 371 stores, including the Rogue Valley Mall location.

The No. 2 home goods chain behind Bed Bath & Beyond failed to find a buyer after seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last May. More than $1 billion in merchandise is being liquidated.

Although the Medford Linens 'n Things was among the retailer's money-makers, it was of little consequence after no bidders came forth to rescue the company.

"The good ones, bad ones and middle ones are all going away," said Rich Tauberman, a spokesman for the Clifton, N.J., company.

The local store dodged the first round of closings last spring, but there was no escaping this time for its 25 employees.

"We were fine up until a week ago," said store manager Susan Hager, who has been with the company for 10 years. "I have a fantastic group of associates and they are still doing their jobs. They're not out there pounding the pavement looking for anything, because it's not like we close tomorrow. At this point, it's still all kind of brand new and it's kind of rough."

The liquidation banners have gone up. The store likely will be closed for good within three months.

The store opened in May 2003 after a $1.4 million renovation and expansion in the mall's former movie theater location.

Rogue Valley Mall has seen its share of store closures, including Montgomery Ward, Wilsons and Kay-Bee Toys over the years. Linens 'n Things' lease was for another five years.

"It means we'll have a 30,000-square-foot opportunity," said Jeff Barber, Rogue Valley Mall manager. "We'll begin immediately trying to find a replacement. They had their initial bankruptcy announcement early in the year. Whenever that happens it's always a wait-and-see time, to see if they pull through it, or if it spreads to the other stores."

In this case, the damage was too deep.

"I don't think we're simply going out there to find a similar type of store," Barber said. "We're looking at all the options."

A six-company consortium advanced $200 million for the company's $500 million inventory with a retail value of more than $1 billion.

Under the liquidation agreement, approved by a federal bankruptcy court, Linens 'n Things will receive 95.1 percent of the merchandise cost value, with amounts over the guarantee split with the liquidators after expenses. Hudson Capital, Gordon Brothers Retail Partners, Hilco Merchant Services, Great American Group, SB Capital Group and Tiger Capital Group all are part of the liquidation deal.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.