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Value City no more

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ELYRIA — The Value City Department Store in Elyria will close within the next two months.

The Oberlin Road store is among 11 stores statewide, and a total of 37 nationwide, closing following the Jan. 23 purchase of the Columbus-based chain by VCHI Acquisition Co.

Kristin Mack, a spokeswoman for VCHI, said the new owners wanted to focus on a core group of stores. She didn’t have any information as to how those stores were selected.

An Elyria store employee, who wished to remain unnamed, estimated that more than 40 employees at the store would lose their jobs. Another employee said they learned of the closing in a Jan. 30 letter.

Don Brackenhoff, the city of Elyria’s economic development director, said he was surprised when he heard rumors of the closing Monday.

“The hardest thing for us is the people who will lose their jobs,” Brackenhoff said.

“People have worked there for years, and to find out like this, it’s very unfortunate, very sad.”

The closing is one of the first blows to the local economy in 2008. In 2007, Midway Mall lost one major tenant, Dillard’s, which said it was closing because it was underperforming, and the JCPenney store might be next as the company has announced it will open a store at Center and Chester roads in Avon.

Chris Baker, executive director of South Elyria Neighborhood Development, said losing what many in the neighborhood consider the “south-side mall” is a great loss.

“It’s really disappointing,” she said. “There’s really nothing else around. You can’t even go to the mall, because that’s declining. What can you say? The economy’s bad and things are tough everywhere.”

Brackenhoff said the Value City store drew regional dollars to Elyria, and cited the recent buyout of the company as a probable reason behind the closing.

“I don’t think it’s an indicator of just Elyria,” he said. “It’s more corporate than local. (VCHI) is probably looking for ways to cut cost.”

Value City will remain open throughout six locations in Ohio, while an additional five will be converted to Burlington Coat Factory outlets by March 31. The Value City Department Store in Parma will become the closest one to Lorain County.

Currently, Value City Department Stores operates 113 stores in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States and employs about 8,600 people. The Elyria store has began closeout sales this week. The transaction does not affect Value City Furniture stores, which are owned and operated separately.

 Customer Will Alvarez said while it’s a shame the store is closing, it’s easy to find the brighter side with lower prices — even if they’re temporary.

“It’s too bad, because Elyria doesn’t need to have another store closing,” Alvarez said. “But the sale’s good. If I can find some golf clubs, I’ll buy them. I don’t even golf.”

Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.

 

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