Lowe’s takes heat for store closings

Lowe’s announcement on Aug. 15 that it was closing seven stores around the country has brought some swift reactions from politicians, community leaders and local media outlets.

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski issued a press release the same day saying: "I was disappointed to hear that Lowe's decided late Sunday evening to close their retail store in Kenai, one of four stores they operate in Alaska. It is my understanding that the store's employees, the City of Kenai and the community had very little notice of the company's action.”

In its second-quarter earnings report, Lowe's described the stores in question as “underperforming.” The locations were also not disclosed. The company’s public relations team subsequently answered media inquiries about the rationale and choices of stores, but some communities were still outraged.

In the case of the Lowe’s store in Ticonderoga, N.Y., the Press-Republican noted that the store had only been open since February 2009, took years of planning and zoning discussions, and enjoyed a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that gave it reduced taxes for 10 years. 

But the newspaper seemed just as bothered by the way Lowe’s handled the layoffs. “After the workday ended Sunday, the 86 employees of the store were gathered together and told that Lowe's would not be opening the next morning -- or ever again for that matter… You don't call in 86 people and tell them they are out of a job as of that moment. That is heartless.”

In Riverdale, Ga., WSBTV interviewed former Lowe’s employees who had been informed of the store’s closing Sunday night and then escorted from the building. 

A Lowe’s spokeswoman told Home Channel News that all the employees will continue to receive pay and benefits for 90 days and are able to apply for open positions in other Lowe’s stores.

Lowe's closed seven stores, which it mentioned in its financial results but did not elaborate on. But Lowe’s spokeswoman Julie Yenichek identified the locations as Meriden, Conn.; Riverdale, Ga.; Elgin and Schaumburg, Ill.; Kenai, Alaska.; Cambridge, Minn.; and Ticonderoga N.Y.