A longtime Anchorage tire seller which went bankrupt two years ago closed its doors for good, apparently leaving some customers’ wheels behind locked doors. Now, the building went up for auction and customers who have been impacted may soon be getting some answers. 

A KTVA photographer who visited the Midtown location of Johnson’s Tire Service on Denali Street during business hours October 31, to pick up tires he had dropped off the previous day, found a paper sign on the front door saying it was “closed for business permanently.”

An employee at the store said staff were told that morning to visit and retrieve personal items from the store.

Attempts to call the Denali store rang without being picked up or answered by a voicemail reply. Attempts to reach company president Kelly Gaede were unsuccessful, and calls to the company’s corporate office returned busy signals; Johnson’s Facebook page and its website had been deleted that evening.

The building on went up for auction on November 7. According to Northrim Bank spokesperson Katie Bender, the bank has taken ownership. She emphasized they owned just the building and not the land or the Johnson's Tire business. 

Bender said the bank is working on returning property left inside to customers and hopes to have a plan within the next day or so.

Johnson’s had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, after an attempt to avoid paying costs related to the construction of its south Anchorage store. That store, as well as locations in Eagle River and Wasilla, subsequently closed.

A message from Gaede, posted on the company's Facebook page during the 2015 bankruptcy, offered an optimistic take on Johnson's future.

"We've been serving Alaska for 33 years and we plan on being here to meet your tire and automotive needs for the next 33!" Gaede wrote.

An October 2015 bankruptcy plan filed in federal court said the company would spend roughly a year trying to sell its Denali Street location for at least $11.5 million. After Sept. 30, 2016, however, creditor Northrim Bank “will be allowed to exercise its non-bankruptcy remedies against its collateral” including Denali Street.

David Bundy, an attorney who handled Johnson’s 2015 bankruptcy but is no longer affiliated with the company, said the provisions put Johnson’s under the gun.

“If you look at the bankruptcy plan it said JTS had a deadline to sell the store or its creditor, Northrim Bank, would foreclose,” Bundy said.

Lauren Maxwell and Nick Swann contributed information to this story.