Lowe's Abruptly Shutters Meriden Store - Update

Meriden's Lowe's closed its doors permanently Sunday night – preceding the home improvement company's announcement that its second quarter earnings had fallen short of projections.

Updated Monday, 12:43 p.m.

Meriden's Lowe's Home Improvement Store -- the anchor to Lowe's Plaza at 1201 East Main Street – abruptly closed for good Sunday night.

The local store was one of seven the chain shuttered nationwide Sunday night because each consistently didn't hit sales goals, according to the company. The closings came the night before Lowe's announcement early Monday that its second quarter earnings fell $260 million short of analyst projections. Other stores closed include those in Elgin, IL, Schaumburg, IL, Riverdale, GA, Ticonderoga, NY, Kenai, AK, and Cambridge, MN.

"They were not profitable from the beginning," said company spokesperson Abby Buford of the seven stores Monday morning. "These stores missed the estimate really from the onset ... they haven't improved over time, despite the hard work by the employees at these locations."

According to Buford, the Meriden location's 94 employees were notified of the closing Sunday night. They will receive pay and benefits for the next 60 days, Buford said, and can apply for work at other Lowe's stores.

Nearby Wallingford and Southington both have Lowe's locations. Meriden's store opened in 2008 and anchors a shopping plaza that includes Ocean State Job Lot, Valencia Liquor, and a Verizon Store among others.

As for the store site, according to Buford, the company is working to immediately find a new tenant. Products in the store will be moved to other stores or warehouses. Customers who had special orders from the store are being contacted, and will be able to pick them up from a sister store.

The location's surprise closing left city officials and employees scrambling Monday morning to confirm reports that it had been permanently shuttered. Trudy Magnolia of Meriden's Economic Development Office got through to Lowe's corporate office just before 11 a.m. after trying for much of the morning. An employee confirmed the closing and directed her to the company's second quarter report.

"It's unfortunate for Meriden," Magnolia said. In addition to the 94 people who have just lost their jobs, she worries about the smaller stores in the plaza. "They're going to be impacted too - that's not good for them."

Magnolia said her office will work as a "rapid response team" to help any big box stores interested in filling Lowe's space, by coordinating the various city departments that can provide information and assistance to a potential tenant, like how to go about obtaining permits.

Lowe's Companies Inc. announced early Monday that the chain had fallen short of second quarter sales projections, according to Reuters. Its stock fell 5 percent before the market opened Monday, the L.A. Times reported.

"Despite some recovery in our seasonal business, our performance for the quarter fell short of our expectations," Robert Niblock, Lowe's chairman, president and CEO, told Reuters.

Lowe's, which, after Home Depot, is the nation's second-largest home improvement chain, has had a worse-than-projected year sales-wise. Analysts blame the recession, saying homeowners were reticent to spend money on home improvement projects. 

Stores that were open for at least year saw a .3 percent decrease in sales according to Reuters. This quarter's sales hit $14.54 billion – a full $260 million less than analysts projected.

Some believe the closing is a sign that the local economy is in worse shape than most previously thought.

“It’s surprising,” said David Cadden, a professor of management at Quinnipiac University, in a statement about the closing Monday. “One would think that with Lowe’s focus on ‘Do it Yourself,' its business would be stable or even growing in an economic downturn. This could be an indication that the local economy might be even worse than we think.”

Magnolia of the Economic Development Office said that despite recent high-profile store closings, the number of retail stores shuttered nationally in the first quarter of 2011 wasn't as high as that of the first quarter of 2010. She added that the close proximity of Lowe's stores in Wallingford and Southington likely helped speed along the Meriden location's demise.

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irenecoer August 15, 2011 at 01:38 PM
i lived in meriden years ago. why are businesses all moving out?everything was so active15-20 yrs. ago. is meriden becoming a thing of the past?
Mary Ann August 15, 2011 at 02:14 PM
I am not surprised that the Lowe's closed. It was too close to the Wallingford store and the area can't support both stores. The Wallingford store is across the street from Home Depot and that attracted customers to that area.
MisterSpuddy August 15, 2011 at 02:20 PM
It always was, Irene, just is more so. If you want anything, you go out of town.
Allen Schott August 15, 2011 at 04:12 PM
We don't cluster the stores together like other towns, see how Manchester, Wallingford, and Newington tend to keep like businesses together. We have great access from the highways, just poor development practices.
Keep the river front for all of us August 15, 2011 at 06:42 PM
I'm not surprised at all.........there is no comparison between Lowe's and HomeDepot customer service. I have walked around Lowe's stores for 5 minutes looking for help.......the service people in HD stores are actually sometimes annoying LOL because they are always asking if you need help.....never had that problem at Lowe's.
Margaret Waage August 15, 2011 at 10:43 PM
I guess I'm old school because I am shocked when a store that size 'suddenly' closes. All I can think about are the people that worked there and what they'll do now to find jobs. I guess you don't need to have so many mega home improvement stores so close to each other. However if I lived in Meriden or along the Wallingford border that store will be missed now because homeowners will have to drive further for hardware. It's not enough that these stores put smaller business out like the Ace Hardware store in Southington. Now they themselves are going out of business. Who knows who will fill that huge piece of real estate? The car dealerships in front of that plaza are still empty. Very sad day for many who depended on that business for jobs.
Lisa August 16, 2011 at 03:01 AM
They should put a Whole Foods in there! We need one in our area!
Mnm Beatty August 16, 2011 at 03:12 AM
once again n another leaves Meriden, nothing stays in meriden, it has become a dead city..i lived here all of my life n i know that they vacant buildings are asking way to high 4 rent or not being kept up 4 it to be even sold n it cost a lot more money then what the building is worth. The taxes r so high n where is it going. i like home depot anyway n when u have another competitor it is tough 2 stay. alive. @ irene, i remember back in the early 80's when i use 2 work downtown n u see people walking every where n u had a few places 2 go. Now the only place u can really go is the mall, i rarely go there because clothes wise ,every one has what u have bought, i go 2 hartford n manchester mall. its bigger n many stores 2 shop. Look at how many stores closed in there or left..my sister in law was manager in one of many stores n she told me, they r asking way 2 much 4 rent. Middletown, new haven ,harfford etc r crowded with many ppl on foot, city hall cannot compare meriden 2 them , meriden is already 2 the point of a dying city, and when u get out of towners like new yorkers who purchases some of the buildings like where silver city diner use to be, they left because of high rent..that too can't even come close to make revenue like manhatten. look at thompson chocolate factory,why were they about to leave? and look at where they were about to go to ,outside of CT, to pay cheaper for employees and insurances,city hall let all us of done and we still til this day r not being heard.
Josh August 16, 2011 at 04:58 AM
Are you kidding? Whole Foods in the Hood? Big Y is coming to Meriden... how exciting...indeed... , we certainly do not need another grocery chain in this area, we already have not one but two stop & shop's in meriden which honestly both of them i avoid and go to wallingford. Or travel to Stew Leonards on the Berlin Tpke. but really Meriden is continuing into a downward spiral of garbage, most of connecticut is turning into it anyways with our new Taxes and other incentives to send jobs to other states or even countries.... 6.35% sales tax... and a gas tax that makes no logical sense to the rest of the country, its sad when hawaii and connecticut have similar gas prices.
Siobhan McLaughlin August 16, 2011 at 12:08 PM
@Josh, This store was not in the "Hood", and I'm sick of Meriden residents constantly putting our town down...if you don't like it, do something about it or leave, please. I think that section of East Main has grown substantially in the past few years given the economy, and the main reason for the closure is that there were SIX stores within a 10 mile radius...ridiculous! Being a resident living nearby, I would personally like a grocery store myself. @Susan That is absolutley not true that you have to travel out of Meriden to shop...we have grocery, retail (we have a mall!) and many services right here. Meriden residents should try to make it a point to patronize these, especially mom and pops.
Darrell Lucas August 16, 2011 at 02:13 PM
So your saying Home depot is better right? I would rather be annoyed with being offered too much help then hardly any at all.
Darrell Lucas August 16, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Wow... are sitting in front of a keyboard? (you could be commenting on your phone) Or are you stuck on using 2 and r for whole words?
Darrell Lucas August 16, 2011 at 02:34 PM
I used to work in Meriden (west main) and I was surprised when I needed to do a simple project for my business I would have to drive to to South End Hardware just to pick up simple Hardware needs. For some other strange reason it took just as much time to travel to lowes. Downtown traffic is a mess and highway is just as much as a pain. There should be a simple hardware store in Meriden. But after seeing some... NOT all.. But I would say some of the landlords apparently dont care for simple maintenance. Many homes looks like crap. If Meriden gave an incentive of lower taxes to a home that looked nice then WOW i bet you would see a change. And if landlords cared for maintaining there housing then maybe... just maybe lowes would have stayed in business.
MisterSpuddy August 17, 2011 at 12:19 AM
I CHOOSE to travel out of Meriden to shop, Siobhan. Also, to eat, congregate with the friends who still live in state, you name it, etc. etc. Hmmm, think I need to do a Whole Foods run!


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