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CHICAGO (CBS) – The nation’s second-largest home improvement store is closing two more stores in suburban Chicago.
Lowe’s has closed its stores in Aurora and Oswego as part of 20 closings nationwide that the company announced Monday. Lowe’s spokeswoman Stacey Lentz said the cuts are needed in an unprecedented economic environment.
“We have a clearer picture of that long-term recovery and we decided to close the 20 stores, including the two in Illinois,” she said.
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Lentz said employees were told after the stores shut their doors for good, following the end of business on Sunday.
Customers found out Monday when they showed up to find the stores already closed down and most of the signage gone.
For contractor Chris Harvey, it was the second Lowe’s closing he’s had to deal with in recent months. The first was when Lowe’s closed it store in South Elgin in August.
“Since they closed that one down, now I gotta come a half hour out of my way out here,” Harvey said.
In August, Lowe’s closed stores in Elgin and Schaumburg will little notice. Workers at the Schaumburg store were told the night before.
There are 96 employees at the Oswego store and customers who have ordered anything from that store will get a call from another store taking over orders in Naperville.
The Aurora store has 86 employees and orders there will be taken over by the store in St. Charles.
Customers at the Aurora store said they’re not surprised it was on the chopping block.
“I’ve been in here before and there’s nobody in here, compared to the one in St. Charles,” Jim Juriga said.
But, in Oswego, customers were shocked by the sudden closing.
Asked what he thinks about the Oswego store closing, Tom Baird said, “I don’t know. I live right over here. I go here all the time.”
Baird said he would just go to a different home improvement store, like Menard’s or Home Depot, rather than driving to Lowe’s stores in Naperville or Aurora.
“I’m not going to drive way over there. It don’t make sense,” he said.
All employees at the closed Lowe’s stores will get pay and benefits for 60 days.
Lowe’s operates 37 other stores in the Chicago area. A call seeking comment from the Mooresville, N.C.-based company were not immediately returned.
The world’s second largest home improvement retailer is also cutting back its plans for expansion, saying in a press release that instead of opening 30 stores a year, it will launch 10 to 15 annually starting in 2012.
Lentz did not have details about affected projects in the Chicago area.
Its net income for the three months ending July 29 totaled $830 million, or 64 cents per share. That compares with $832 million, or 58 cents per share, last year.
“Closing stores is never easy, given the impact on hard-working employees and local communities,” said Robert A. Niblock, chairman, president and CEO. “However, we have an obligation to make tough decisions when necessary to improve profitability and strengthen our financial position.”