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‘Jerry Ellis,’ Building 19’s cofounder, talks about what went wrong and what he’ll do next

Cofounder Gerry Elovitz, long known as Jerry Ellis, plans to close all his Building #19 stores, including Weymouth’s (above).
Cofounder Gerry Elovitz, long known as Jerry Ellis, plans to close all his Building #19 stores, including Weymouth’s (above).Jonathan.Wiggs/Globe Staff

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Building 19 — the discount retailer that since the 1960s has sold “good stuff cheap” — last week filed for bankruptcy and next month plans to close all 10 of its stores. The Hingham-based company, like many chains before it, was felled by changing consumer trends and increased competition.

The “semi-lovely emporium,” as Building 19 waggishly called itself, sold goods that merchants wanted to get rid of — salvage, overstocks, closeouts, and irregulars. Customers never knew what they were going to find, and that was part of the plan.

Building 19 was founded in 1964 by the irrepressible Gerry Elovitz -— who has long been known as Jerry Ellis — along with the late Harry Andler. Globe correspondent Colman Herman caught up with the 86-year-old Elovitz at his Weymouth store.

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