February 20, 2009 at 1:00 am

Adray Appliance bids adieu

Store has been fixture in Dearborn since 1955

Customers Walter Ray and Janet Parant speak with salesman Rick Weyer on Thursday at Adray Appliance Photo & Sound Center. (Velvet S. McNeil / The Detroit News)

Adray Appliance Photo & Sound Center, a Dearborn retail institution and a long-time supporter of community sports teams, will soon close its doors after a liquidation sale is completed, company officials said Thursday.

The owners, Louise Adray and her daughter, Debbie, are looking to retire and the company is not facing any financial difficulties, said George Bednar, company vice president and general manager. Mike Adray opened the store in a small shop in 1955 and eventually expanded to an entire city block. His wife and daughter took over the business after his death in 1992.

While retirement is on the table, the owner is mulling the possibility of reopening at a smaller location. The store, which sells household appliances, and stereo and camera equipment, only uses about 9,000 square feet of its 23,000-square-foot building on Carlysle Street. Additionally, the company has built a strong online business and plans to continue those operations.

"There is a possibility you may see us re-emerge," said Bednar, who has worked there since 1978.

The store will begin a liquidation or "retirement" sale today. The store will remain open until everything has been sold, and the 45 employees will get severance pay or be moved to a new location if Adray reopens, Bednar said.

"We're purposely not having a going-out-of-business sale because once you say you're going out of business, it's very difficult to make a comeback," he said.

City officials, civic supports and others expressed dismay about the company's closing, noting Adray has been an important part of Dearborn's retail and civic landscape for decades.

"It's definitely a loss to the community," said Gary Kuhlmann, owner of a Dearborn banquet hall and a long-time family friend and customer. "They were very generous to the community."

The Adray name has long been synonymous with Dearborn, Mayor Jack O'Reilly said. The company and founder Mike Adray were everywhere you looked: on shirts, at fundraisers and just about any sporting event.

"Everything was Adray and it was amazing," he said. "It's really just a major blow to the city. This is really kind of a sad day."

Adray was one of the most well-known and reputable businesses in Dearborn, said Jennifer Giering, president of the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce.

"It's very, very sad to see them close their doors," she said.

The company once operated three other stores -- in Troy, Canton Township and Ann Arbor -- but closed those locations several years ago for various reasons. A company foundation will continue to support civic groups, recreational organizations and charities.

Some 300,000 adults and children have played on teams supported by Adray over the past several decades. Bednar said the company was also involved in many fundraisers and established scholarship funds.

"This is the end of an era," said Alan Balaka, a retired 54-year-old Visteon worker who played on Adray-sponsored teams and has shopped at the store most of his life. "I am hopeful that they will reopen again."

You can reach Jennifer Youssef at (313) 222-2319 or jyoussef@detnews.com">jyoussef@detnews.com.

"There is a possibility you may see us re-emerge," said George ...