Value City sets closings in Md.

Annapolis store to stay

30 in U.S. will be shuttered

February 14, 2008|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,Sun reporter

Value City Department Stores will close all but one of its eight Maryland stores in the next several weeks as part of a restructuring that includes shedding 30 stores across the country.

Seven stores have begun liquidation sales and will close when everything is sold, which company officials estimated would take about six weeks.

Value City's store on Solomons Island Road in Annapolis is the only one that will remain open in the state.

The Glen Burnie store on Ritchie Highway will be converted to a Burlington Coat Factory as part of a deal announced in October by Value City's former owner, Retail Ventures Inc., to sell the leases of up to 24 of its stores.

Last month, Retail Ventures sold the discount retail chain to VCHI Acquisition Co. in Ohio. VCHI said in January that it was closing more than 30 of its 113 stores.

Value City Furniture stores are owned by a different company, American Signature Inc., and are not affected by the closings.

Burlington is also looking at the Value City stores at Eastpoint and Westview malls, said Robin Hepler, a spokeswoman for VCHI.

A Burlington spokeswoman couldn't confirm that it was looking at the two mall locations, but said any new Burlington stores would open by the fall.

The other Value City stores that are closing are in Frederick, Cumberland, Greenbelt and Hillcrest Heights.

Value City decided to close the Maryland stores because they didn't see as much room for growth as they did in other areas, Hepler said. She said the closings weren't necessarily because of low profits. The company is keeping stores in northeast Ohio, Indianapolis and parts of New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

"When the new ownership acquired the stores, they picked a core group of stores because of demographics and location, that they wanted to reposition the brand around," Hepler said.

"I don't know that profit had as much to do with it as much as market potential, real estate and a lot of other different factors," she added.

Hepler didn't know how many employees would lose their jobs because of the closings. Employees will be able to apply for jobs at the stores that are being converted to Burlington.

Thomas H. Maddux, president of KLNB Retail, a commercial real estate company in Towson, said there could be a number of reasons for Value City to leave the market. It might have decided the two-story former department store buildings where they were located weren't the right fit or that the market had become too saturated with discount stores.

"Twenty years ago, Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl's weren't here," Maddux said. "The pie is only so big. Maybe one of Value City's problems was they couldn't attain critical mass."

Maddux said the chain seemed to have been a good fit for the Baltimore area.

"I think historically they did pretty well and that concept was pretty well-suited to Baltimore's demographics, being a value-oriented city," he said.

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