TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A North Carolina furniture maker abruptly shut down, laying off hundreds of workers.
According to county officials, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams opened its headquarters in Alexander County in the late 1980s, eventually expanding its retail stores nationwide.
The company is closing three facilities in towns across the state, including Hiddenite, Statesville, and Taylorsville.
WARN reports posted by the North Carolina Department of Commerce show the majority of the 533 laid-off workers are from the Taylorsville facility.
“We all have lived here. We all know people, and so it really shocked everybody,” worker at Rogers Mills Becky Smith said.
Smith says Taylorsville is known for its small, close-knit community where everybody knows everybody – and furniture.
“That is what we live off of here in this county — is furniture,” Smith said.
About two weeks ago, the town lost a major player.
Residents say Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams didn’t just fill homes with its products but supplied hundreds of families with jobs across the region.
“From the outside looking in, it appears that it is something that basically happened overnight. Of course, nothing of this magnitude happens overnight, but it gives that appearance,” Director of the Alexander County Economic Development Corporation David Icenhour said.
Icenhour said the furniture maker was one of the largest employers in the county.
Days after laying off workers, it filed for bankruptcy.
“They were in shock, and honestly, we were all in shock. I think the immediate response is, ‘What can we do to help?'” Icenhour said.
Within days of the layoffs being announced, Icenhour says his office was flooded with calls from companies across the region and out of state, looking to hire workers who were laid off.
“The support has been as unprecedented as the closing,” he said.
While cars no longer fill the company parking lot on One Comfortable Place in Taylorsville, dozens of hiring signs line the entrance, sparking optimism in town that workers will find new jobs.
“So, if you want to make something, we like to say that it can be made in Alexander County,” Icenhour said.
In an effort to speed up the hiring process, the county is hosting a job fair on Tuesday, September 12th, at the East Taylorsville Baptist Church in Taylorsville.
As of Friday, at least 40 companies and recruiters have signed up.
‘That is one thing good about us is we are all needing workers. We will train. We will do whatever we need to get them,” Smith said.
The job fair is taking place from noon to 4 p.m.
Queen City News reached out to Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and did not hear back by the deadline.