By Dorothy Tucker

CHICAGO (CBS) — Home improvement retailer HOBO is shutting down all of its Chicago area stores, CBS 2 has learned.

Workers for Home Owners Bargain Outlet got the notice on Oct. 2–that the company will liquidate its assets next month and may be out of business by December.

There are five stores in the Chicago area and two more in Milwaukee.

HOBO has been around since the early 1990s. In a letter to employees the owners say they are trying to sell the company. However, it they can’t, “we expect to begin closing the facility on or after December 20, 2018.”

That’s concerning to Carmen Talavera who just got $141 gift card for a recent refund.

“It’s terrible. I didn’t know that. What am I supposed to do?” Talavera said.

Customers have questions but according to a long-time employee, who would only talk by phone, workers can’t provide answers.

“We are not allowed to say” stores are closing, said one worker who wanted t to remain anonymous. “If we say that, we’ll get fired.”

The employee is worried about customers who have expensive orders that may not be filled because vendors haven’t been paid and won’t deliver the goods.

“There could be 10, 15 vendors. Some of them are owed, you know, anywhere from $300,000 to $800,000.”

Nearly 400 people work for HOBO. According to the letter “employees will be terminated between December 20 and December 31, 2018.”

A company representative had no comment.