By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Travel Store USA, which opened under inauspicious circumstances about 18 months ago, has closed its doors in Tupelo.
The fate of its other sister stores is unknown, but the company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Dec. 29.
Under Chapter 7, a company usually is liquidated. However, the business can still operate under the direction of a court trustee. If it can settle with creditors, the company filing Chapter 7 may not have to be liquidated.
However, in its filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District Court of Tennessee, Travel Store USA LLC listed $21.94 million in liabilities and only $2,500 in assets.
Travel Store USA’s unsecured creditors included BancorpSouth, Bank Of Bartlett, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc., Magness Oil Co., Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. and Trust One Bank.
An employee of the Tupelo store on Monday said the store closed on Sunday but could not provide additional information.
The owner is Jim Curtis, vice president of RJ Investments and president and owner of Tri-States Construction in Collierville.
Calls to RJ Investments went unanswered, and the number for Tri-States Construction is no longer in service.
Other Travel Store USA locations in Troy, Ala., and Columbia, Tenn., also had their numbers disconnected.
Curtis said in June 2008 that his companies built and leased properties to the former Horizon Travel Plazas LLC. But Horizon ran into its own troubles, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Curtis at the time said his companies owned six Horizon stores, plus the Tupelo store it was building.
“We didn’t spend that amount of money to just walk away,” he said.
The Tupelo store opened in the fall of 2008 as a Travel Store USA. It contained a Western Sizzlin Express, but the restaurant closed in January 2009.
Several months after the Western Sizzlin closed, another eatery opened, serving breakfast and lunch.
But on Monday, the gas pumps at the Tupelo Travel Store were covered with plastic bags, and a handwritten sign on the front door said “Closed. Going out of business.”