PORTLAND - All seven company-owned Mattress World stores will close in about a month. The remaining two franchise outlets will stay open.
For 15 years, Sherri Hiner, has been the spokesperson on Mattress World TV commercials.
The tagline for those commercials was: "It's not too late to sleep like a baby." Sherri wishes she could wake up from what has become a nightmare between her and the state of Washington.
Like most retailers, Mattress World has had its share of lean times, especially during the recession. In 2009, everything changed when Hiner received a letter from the Washington Department of Revenue to submit for an audit.
The audit went back to 2004 and found that sales tax on mattresses delivered to Washington state had not been paid. Hiner said during that time she did not have any delivery trucks, and the mattresses were delivered by a third party.
"I didn't deliver them to Washington, we don't have any stores in Washington," she said.
She was told she owed because they got delivered at all.
Hiner pointed out that the customer is responsible for paying the sales tax directly to the state.
"The tax was assessed at $800,000 and after penalties, $2 million," Hiner said, holding back tears.
Hiner has paid $280,000 of the back taxes, with $1.7 million left on the bill. Hiner said she doesn't have the money to pay, which is why she is closing up shop.
She does take full responsibility for what's happened, but disagrees with Washington's findings.
In the end, it means 90 people will soon be without a job.
"I want to say thank you, and thank you to all the people who have stuck by me", she said.
"I love this industry," she said. But, now the company she worked so hard to build is now in the hands of a liquidation company, making it very difficult for Hiner to rest easy these days.
Sherri plans to work with the remaining stores to grow sales.
"Literally, if you could walk a day in my shoes, you would know it's not about money, it's not about rectangles that have padding, it's about the people and that's the sad part," she said.