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Circuit City will close all stores, idling 50 in Medford

Updated, 11:08 a.m.

Circuit City Inc., the second-largest consumer electronics retailer, based in Richmond, Va., said today it will liquidate its remaining 567 stores, including its Medford Center operation.

The company announced the move after it was unable to renegotiate its debt with creditors and lenders and was unable to find a buyer.

The move will put 30,000 more people out of work, including approximately 50 in Medford.

Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, and closed 150 stores, as vendors began restricting the flow of merchandise ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.

Once the largest consumer electronics firm, Circuit City slipped against electronics rival Best Buy Co. and broader-based Wal-Mart.

The retailer had explored strategic alternatives since May, when it opened its books to Blockbuster Inc. The Dallas-based movie-rental chain made a takeover bid of more than $1 billion with plans to create a 9,300-store chain to sell electronic gadgets and rent movies and games. But the sagging economy led Blockbuster to withdraw its bid in July.

"We don't have any information at the store level," local general manager Dave Smith said. "That's as far as I'm going to go."

Employees expected the store to close within 90 days.

Mike Beugli, manager at the Sears store next door, said the loss of a neighboring competitor has long-term ramifications.

"I hate to see somebody go down," Beugli said. "Especially, Circuit City, the number two seller. It's an obvious concern when someone has pretty good strength that's not able to weather the storm."

Circuit City opened its 20,000-square-foot Medford Center store in July 1997. There were about 500 applicants for 50 positions.

The retailer had explored strategic alternatives since May, when it opened its books to Blockbuster Inc. The Dallas-based movie-rental chain made a takeover bid of more than $1 billion with plans to create a 9,300-store chain to sell electronic gadgets and rent movies and games. But the sagging economy led Blockbuster to withdraw its bid last July.

In 2003, Circuit City fired or reduced commissions for 3,900 - or 20 percent of its workforce - including a top salesman that had sold more than $1 million of electronics. Again in March of 2007 the company laid off 3,400 lower level employees.

- Greg Stiles and the Associated Press