By Laura Gunderson, The Oregonian
Kaufmann's Streamborn Flyfishing store in Tigard remains dark and locked after unexpectedly closing last week.
Lance Kaufmann, owner of Kaufmann's Streamborn of Tigard, plans to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection for his 42-year-old fly fishing outfitter next week, according to the company's lawyer.
Plans are to liquidate and permanently close the store, said Matthew Arbaugh of the Portland firm Field Jerger. Arbaugh referred further questions to Kaufmann, whose cell phone voice mail was full. Nobody is answering phones at either store.
Arbaugh said that he expects to meet with the Tigard store's landlord today to set a time to open the store so that customers may pick up gear that they had dropped off for repairs. Anyone who has merchandise at Kaufmann's or has paid for gear or services they haven't received should call Arbaugh at 503-228-9115.
Arbaugh's phone likely will be ringing soon.
In a Groupon daily deal last month, 682 people bought $47 gift certificates for a six-hour fly-fishing class that was typically priced at $95. And, after a story in The Oregonian last week about Kaufmann's abrupt closure, a dozen customers responded with questions about future trips they'd already paid for, hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards they'd saved in hopes of buying certain gear or fly-fishing classes they'd bought but hadn't yet taken.
Planning a father-daughter trip, Allan Polley and his 25-year-old daughter had already paid for a two-day fly fishing class at Kaufmann's in early May. They were sad -- and a little frustrated -- to hear their trip and the cash were gone. Polley had decided to go with Kaufmann's after his wife offered to buy him waders for their wedding anniversary in January.
"We first went to Dick's (Sporting Goods) and they didn't help us at all," said Polley, who ended up finding just the right pair at Kaufmann's. However, the store didn't have his size in stock, so the clerks pulled a nicer pair that was $200 more from the back and sold it at the lower price.
Cash or gear at Kaufmann's Streamborn?
The retailer plans to file for bankruptcy next week and is compiling names of customers who bought but haven't received gear or services. The retailer also hopes to set a date for customers to pick up any gear that was dropped off at the store for repairs.
Call: Kaufmann's lawyer Matthew Arbaugh at 503-228-9115.
Consumers also have the right to file a complaint with the Oregon Attorney General's Office at 877-877-9392.
"They gave us great service," said Polley, who received no e-mails or phone calls when the business closed. "I just drove by the other day and everything is still in there, but there's a big 'For Lease' sign in the window."
His daughter tracked down another class that will be held in June through Orvis, a national retailer that opened its first Portland area store at Bridgeport Village late last year.
Jim Butsch of Wilsonville had wondered if some of the larger chains, such as Orvis and Dick's, had made it more difficult for Kaufmann's. He was upset to find the store closed as he had three reels inside he'd dropped off for repairs. He finally tracked down the company where they'd been sent and said he expects to get them back.
Butsch had been going to the store for 25 years, attracted by the high-quality flies that co-founder Randall Kaufmann was famous for tying.
From their parents' garage, Randall and Lance Kaufmann launched a catalog business that put their flies -- including the Kaufmann Stone, Timberline Emerger, Hot Butt Caddis and Stimulator -- on the international fishing scene. Employees said that Lance Kaufmann had bought out his brother in recent years and was operating the store on his own.
The company ultimately grew to three stores, in Tigard, Seattle and Bellevue, a location that was closed over the past year. The Seattle store closed at the same time as the one in Tigard.
Kaufmann employee Brian Marz recalls feeling honored to be hired at the Tigard shop last March. Marz was Kaufmann's webmaster, blogger, store clerk and guide, yet was the newest one on board.
"Business was slower than it should be, but at the same time, we were just about to get into our busy season," he said, sharing the surprise he and other employees felt when it was discovered that the store's locks had been changed last week. He guessed about a half dozen employees worked at the Seattle store and the Tigard location, where he said a longer-than-expected construction project had frustrated Lance Kaufmann.
"Everybody in the Oregon and Washington area that has a name in the fly-fishing industry at one point or another worked for Kaufmann's," Marz said. "After 42 years, you don't want to remember only the bad taste."