BUSINESS
01/10/2013 01:56 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2013

Old Town Traders' 'Going Out For Business' Sign Led Customers To Believe It Was Closing For More Than 3 Years

A jewelry retailer in Albuquerque, New Mexico has removed signs from its storefront that allegedly tricked customers into thinking the shop was going out of business.

For at least three years, Old Town Traders hung a sign in its windows that said “Going Out For Business,” a neighbor told KRQE News 13. In some instances the owner reportedly obstructed the word “for,” leading some locals to believe that the store would soon close, KRQE reported.

“We’re going out for your business. I guess that’s what it means,” an Old Town Traders employee said in an interview with the news station. “It’s intentional for the owner. I mean that’s why he put it out, to get people to come in,” she explained, adding that the sign often confuses customers.

On Thursday, an employee told The Huffington Post that the signage had been taken down, though she would not say why.

It's not the first time a store owner has falsely led people to believe they're shopping at a store on its way to shutting down. The marketing tactic lets businesses engender sympathy from customers, who often believe they're receiving fire-sale discounts, even when they're not.

Such was the case when Cyrus Hassankola, a Texas-based carpet salesman, gained notoriety in 2009 after opening a store in Dallas literally called “Going Out of Business,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Hassankola reportedly hung a giant “Going Out of Business” sign in the storefront, pitching rugs at "60-90% off" and attracting customers who often told him how sorry they were that he was closing. But the practice landed Hassankola in hot water with the Better Business Bureau, which eventually forced him to the change the store’s name.

In fact, many localities require businesses to apply for a going out of business license before posting such sales.

“I understand the desire to stay in business,” the BBB official that busted Hassankola told the Journal. “But you can’t do it by going out of business.”

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