Employees blindsided by portrait studio closure

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Friday the camerasinside the Lufkin Sears Portrait Studio sat idle after the CPI Corporationclosed all of its U.S. portrait studios.

"Up until theday they closed the doors they had us shooting customers and didn't tell usanything," said former manager Misty Pyle.

Nationwide more than 2,000 studios insideWal-Mart, Toy R Us and Sears were shut down Wednesday night after the companyfiled for bankruptcy.

Former manager MistyPyle said she found out about the closure on Facebook and after talking withher district manager she was told to file for unemployment.

"I got to workand it said do not clock in your studio is closed," said Pyle.

Former salesassociate Pamela Yarbrough said it was business as usual on Wednesday and no onewas warned of the coming closure.

Former employees saythe studio had been doing well and they had appointments through the weekend,now customers are on their own."

"I did someshoots, I did appointments, I called people and told them their pictures werein," said Yarbrough.

Former employees wereleft a document with information on how to handle insurance and final paychecks.

"We made thebest memories that we could for people," said Yarbrough.

In December former employees say they weretold the company was struggling but they were working with buyers to improvethe situation.

Pyle said she has filed for unemployment butis doing freelance photography.

All customers that have already paid for portraits can call thestore manager and will be able to pick up their pictures from the store.

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