ST. LOUIS • The area's queen of campy commercials and her magic carpet have come in for a crash landing.
Becky Rothman and her brothers, Jules and Arnold, have pulled the plug on Becky's Carpet & Tile stores. The chain's five locations shuttered on Monday, though employees are still working to fulfill orders and some customers were still picking up items this morning.
In an interview at the company's Manchester headquarters, Rothman blamed the chain's demise on the economy that led to a screeching halt of new home building as well as competition from big box stores.
"It's been very hard to keep the business going," she said.
According to the St. Louis and St. Charles counties assessors' websites, Rothman Properties is delinquent in paying more than $150,000 in property taxes from 2011 at four of its stores.
Rothman was well-known around town for her commercials in which she took on the moniker the "queen of carpet." Wearing a crown, she was sometimes seen pretending to fly on a magic carpet.
The family-owned business was started by her father who opened a carpet store in East St. Louis in 1954. After her father died in 1977, she and her brothers took over the two stores.
At its peak, Becky's Carpet & Tile had eight locations in the metro area. But the company began paring back its stores after the recession hit, including a store that closed last year in the Fairview Heights area.
The five remaining locations were in Fairmont City, St. Peters, South County, Hazelwood, and Manchester.
Rothman did not provide a clear explanation for why the stores had closed so suddenly, leaving many customers angry and wondering if their orders will be fulfilled. She just notified the company's 30 or so employees of the impending demise on Friday.
But she vowed to fulfill current orders or to provide refunds. A sign on the door advised customers to call 314-447-3200 for more information.
And she said there is still a possibility the company may consolidate and re-open the south county store.
Staff writer Lisa Brown contributed to this report.