Dan Young, owner of PCLaptops and a longtime friend of Schanze's, confirmed the rival computer business is folding, but disputed rumors that he is buying the troubled chain. Young told The Salt Lake Tribune his businesses will honor active free labor warranties offered on Totally Awesome's desktop computers.
Schanze initially agreed to an afternoon interview to discuss the closure, then repeatedly hung up when called, saying he was in meetings and too busy to comment.
Schanze is known for his zany and sometimes racially offensive advertising campaigns promoting the "best computers of the planet;" for a series of controversial infomercials in which Schanze lectured viewers about proper parenting; and more recently, for his legal troubles.
Currently, Schanze is awaiting trial May 10 on charges stemming from an incident last May in which he sped through a Draper neighborhood and pulled a gun after being confronted by several concerned citizens. He is charged with "threatening with or using a dangerous weapon in a fight or quarrel," a class A misdemeanor, reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor, and lying to police about the incident.
During the past three years, Schanze also has been embroiled in a number of discrimination suits filed by former employees. His decade-old chain once employed 110 Utahns at eight locations.
In addition to honoring Totally Awesome warranties, PCLaptops plans to offer jobs to about 20 of Schanze's employees as part of a plan to expand his current seven stores to include desktop PC sales, Young said.