It’s no secret that Dunlaps in Stephenville is closing shop.

Employees standing along Washington Street holding “closeout” sale signs was the first clue. The second was word of mouth. The announcement that the store was going out of business was first heard through a whisper campaign, while company officials remained mum.

Late Monday, the Dunlap Company finally released an official statement confirming the closing, along with 37 other stores in eight states.

Twenty-one of the stores are in Texas, where most carry the Dunlap’s banner. The remaining Dunlap stores are located in small to mid-sized communities in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

“Sadly, the inability to secure ongoing financing leaves us with no option but to plan for an orderly winding down of our enterprise,” Reg Martin, chairman of The Dunlap Company, said. “We’ve informed our employees that their Dunlap’s store will be closing down over the next several weeks.”

About 20 people are expected to lose their jobs because of the closing.

“We’d like to thank our loyal customers for their patronage over the years and also thank our employees who have enabled us to play important roles in the lives of our customers and communities for generations,” Martin said.

Dunlaps in Stephenville is located at 2133 W. Washington.

No official date of the final closing has been set.

Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.