Preview precedes March 17 bankruptcy auction

BENNINGTON — For three hours on Wednesday, shoppers once again had the opportunity to stroll the aisles at LaFlamme's, sitting on the couches, checking out the refrigerators, and casting a critical eye on the framed art and table decorations.

The occasion was the preview of the March 17 bankruptcy court-ordered auction, when 555 lots of furniture, rugs, mirrors, dining room sets, and other furnishings and home accents will be offered to the highest bidder. LaFlamme's, known for its 20-foot-tall chair on Main Street, entered Chapter 7 proceedings in January.

The Thomas Hirchak Company, the Morrisville-based auction house conducting the sale, ran Wednesday's preview, with no representatives of LaFlamme's in attendance. Forty-eight potential bidders came through the door to have a look around, according to Toby Hirchak, who runs the auction house's commercial division.

"I would term that [turnout] as good, for the product offering that we had," he said.

Attendees took advantage of the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the items before making their bids, either online or at the auction. Among them were Hans and Mengxin Malz of Arlington, who were looking for upholstered furniture for their dining room.

"We were surprised that they closed," Hans Malz said. "What they have left here is nice. It's too bad that they couldn't make it in business."

Each item bore a day-glo green tag identifying its lot number, from Lot 1, a "J Furniture polyfiber sofa," to Lot 555, a "large artificial plant." In addition to the furnishings, lots included such items as a water cooler, a copier, many displays of plastic fruit, tool boxes, and a vacuum cleaner — all items owned by the business, and now to be liquidated.

Wayne Olado had traveled from Bethel for the preview, looking for furnishings for apartments he owns.

"I've done a lot of business with Hirchak, I'm a big auction guy," Olado said. "You can save a ton of money, versus what's new in the store." Depending on how the bidding goes, he said, he could come away with lots of furniture, or with very little. "With an auction, you never know," he said.

Bidders can virtually examine the lots, and enter bids, at Hirchak's website,, but Olado said his wife and daughter will be on site on the 17th, while he's attending a building auction.

The landmark chair continues to generate interest. Jeffrey Grimshaw, founder of Bennington-based media organization Southern Vermont Today, has launched a campaign to raise enough money to buy the chair and keep it in town; as of Wednesday, the GoFundMe campaign ( had raised $1,200 of its $10,000 goal. Grimshaw has said that if the funds exceed the eventual purchase price, they'll be put into a fund for the chair's future upkeep.

In the meantime, online bidding on the chair, a replica of the original chair that stood in front of the former Haynes and Kane Furniture store from the 1960s through 2000, stood at $5 yesterday.

"I think there's interest," Hirchak said. "The online bidding thing is a funny thing. People sit on their hands until the bitter end."

On the day of the auction, March 17, registration and inspection will begin at 8 a.m. All lots will be sold to the highest bidder.

Reach David LaChance at or 802-447-7567, ext. 115


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