ROCKY MOUNT – A former employee at a Franklin County furniture store that shut its doors this month is talking to 10 News. He claims he hasn't been paid for a month's work and saw firsthand the business' struggles.
As 10 News has reported, churches across the county and here at home have lost
thousands of dollars after the Church Furniture Store in Rocky Mount unexpectedly closed last week.
In addition to multiple churches that have continued to reach out to us since our original story aired Wednesday, 10 News has also be contacted by former employees both that support the business, and those who are concerned.
When the business closed, one former employee said at least 15 people lost their jobs.
"It was the end of the workweek. They told us we had to stay after for a meeting and that's when they broke it to us, told us we were shut down," an employee said.
The former employee agreed to speak to 10 News anonymously.10 News verified his employment after he provided a previous pay stub. He said he and other employees weren't paid for their last month's work.
“It wasn't good. We worked and tried to come in on the holidays and everything, the day before and after Christmas to try and keep the company up. That's what we get for it,” the employee said.
He said the closure came as a complete surprise.
"We knew it was slow, but we didn't know how bad it was."
Churches like Penn Forest Worship Center in Roanoke said they waited on chairs for months.
“I have contacted them every week to every other week,” said Pastor Myron Atkinson.
To date, after paying nearly $5,100 for 150 chairs, they only have one.
This former employee says they were somewhat aware customers were having issues.
"Well the manager would come and tell us it would be something we would have to get done real quick because it was so late. All the paperwork for the jobs we do would have an expected date and it would be way months behind,” he said. “The biggest issue is that we wouldn't have the materials to build it and that's why we were so far behind,” he said.
Based on previous positive customer reviews on Google and Facebook, as well as an A-plus Better Business Bureau rating, the issues only appeared within the last year.
Owner Sam Rakes and his attorney have yet to return multiple calls from 10 News, but two other former employees have come to his defense on 10 News’s Facebook page.
"Sam is a good person, and so is his family. I'm sorry for your experiences but they have done the best with the hand they were dealt,” said Heather Haller.
Jon Skeens also came to the business' defense.
“Sam Rakes and the rest of the Church Furniture Store have nothing but honor and integrity. The fact is that everyone feels bad about the situation (that) has happened,” Skeens said. "Sam and Jodi (the owners) went without paychecks many times to make sure their employees were paid. If that's not integrity, then I don't know what is.”
But that is little comfort to those still waiting to get a month’s pay.
"I mean, it is frustrating. We busted our butt trying to help keep the company up and that's the way it ended,” the former employee said.
There has now been a second complaint about the Church Furniture Store filed with the Virginia Attorney General's Office.