Daddy’s customers look for answers

Customers of Daddy’s Junky Music whose items were being repaired or who had made deposits on equipment are trying to figure out where they stand now that the New Hampshire-based chain of music equipment stores closed its doors abruptly Wednesday night.Unable to get anybody from the store on the phone, concerned customers have flocked to the company’s Facebook page to try to find answers. Daddy’s announced through its website that the company was no longer in business as of 8 p.m. Wednesday. Aside from the announcement, the website was otherwise wiped clean.”I have a deposit down on two items that I will obviously not be receiving,” wrote Jonathan Blakeslee. “How do I get my deposit money back?”Others have expressed concern over the extended warranties they purchased on their equipment, unredeemed gift cards and how to get back their items they were having repaired.”When it comes down to it, we just want to know what’s going on,” wrote Shane McCarthy. “Even if it’s slow going, someone telling us anything would be welcome at this point.”At the time of the closing, Daddy’s had 12 stores in four states. Four of those were in New Hampshire — in Portsmouth, Manchester, Nashua and Salem.As of Thursday, the only New Hampshire store that had a working voicemail was in Portsmouth. The recording said Daddy’s was closed “indefinitely,” thanked callers for their business and told them, “See you on the other side.”Owner and founder Fred Bramante told the Nashua Telegraph that consumers with questions should call Daddy’s corporate office at 603-623-7900.When a store closes suddenly, “the first thing we tell folks to do is to be sure to try to get in touch with the store as quickly as possible to find out where they stand,” said Dave Rienzo, an attorney with the state consumer protection bureau. “If the store is not responsive to their inquiries, they should file a complaint with us.”Consumer complaints can be filed at did not immediately return calls placed to the corporate office and at home, but earlier he told WMUR he could not discuss the specifics of the company’s closure due to pending legal issues.If Daddy’s ends up filing for bankruptcy protection, that could complicate matters for consumers who are looking to get back deposits or redeem gift cards, said Rienzo.”When somebody files for bankruptcy, then the automatic stay goes into effect,” said Rienzo. “That means that any claims have to go through the bankruptcy court.”Bramante founded Daddy’s in 1972. A former schoolteacher, the entrepreneur has also been a strong advocate for education in the state. He ran for governor four times on an education platform and is a member of the state Board of Education, which he previously chaired.In its 39 years of business, Daddy’s became a New England music institution, selling new and used musical instruments, recording equipment, and sound gear to consumers in the Granite State, Massachusetts, Vermont and New York.Bramante said the company had 52 full-time and 14 part-time workers in New Hampshire. Under state law, employers with 75 or more full-time employees are required to give their employees advance notice of closure.Bramante told WMUR that the decision to close the store left him “brokenhearted” and that Oct. 26 was one of the worst days of his life.He cited the dampened economy, sales lost to the Internet and a lawsuit that the company settled out of court as factors in its closure. — KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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