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Creditors file involuntary bankruptcy against Commerce Corp.

Several creditors of Commerce Corp. filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against the Maryland-based distributor of lawn and garden supplies.

In the petition filed last week, five creditors claim they are owed a combined $1.73 million from the Curtis Bay distributor and want it placed in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

The creditors are DeWitt Co. Inc. in Missouri; Franklin Electric Co. Inc. of Indiana; Dramm Corp. of Wisconsin; and Premier Horticulture Inc. and J.R. Peters Inc., both of Pennsylvania.

Commerce CEO Richard Lessans could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

Commerce, founded by Lessans' family in the 1920s, has been under financial stress, and early last month notified the state it was laying off up to 70 employees.

Lessans told the Baltimore Sun in December that it was seeking to either find a new buyer or develop a new format.

Last month, BFG Supply Co. in Ohio announced it acquired Commerce's facility in Grand Rapids, Mich., and hired more than 50 former Commerce employees. And Commerce's website now carries the BFG logo and welcomes former Commerce customers.

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