‘It’s really a heartbreak.’ Shoppers lament SLO County Orchard Supply Hardware closures

The Orchard Supply Hardware near you will close by the end of the year.

OSH parent company Lowe’s announced during its second-quarter earnings call that it would close all 99 of its stores in California, Oregon and Florida, saying it had decided to shutter those operations to focus on its core home improvement business.

That includes the two Orchard stores in San Luis Obispo County — at 825 Oak Park Boulevard in Pismo Beach and 2005 Theatre Drive in Paso Robles.

“While it was a necessary business decision to exit Orchard Supply Hardware, decisions that impact our people are never easy,” Lowes President and CEO Marvin R. Ellison said in a statement on the company’s earnings report.

According to the report, Lowe’s earnings were cut by $230 million related to a strategic reassessment of the brand prior to its decision to close. Lowe’s purchased the chain for $205 million in 2013 after the smaller San Jose-based home improvement store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Requests for comment from the local stores were directed to the Lowe’s corporate office.

Orchard Supply Hardware’s parent company Lowe’s announced it will close all 99 of its California stores including the store in Pismo Beach, seen here. The chain also has a store in Paso Robles. Joe Johnston

Arroyo Grande resident Michelle Pratt who was shopping at the Pismo store Wednesday afternoon said she was sad to hear about the Orchard closures.

Pratt lives just across Highway 101 and shops there nearly every day — sometimes several times a day, she said.

“This is one of my go-to places,” Pratt said. “It’s really a heartbreak for me to hear that this one is closing.”

Another Arroyo Grande resident, Mike Stevens, said he hurried to the closest OSH store when he heard news they would be closing to redeem a gift card he had been given.

“It’s too bad. They’ve been around for a while and I’ve come here many, many times, for years,” Stevens said. “I grew up here. This whole place has changed.”

On top of the inconvenience of driving to a hardware store farther away, Pismo Beach resident Ken Coombs said he was concerned for all the current employees who will lose their jobs.

“It’s just kind of a ridiculous,” he said. “Everything seemed to be copacetic while it was running.”

It is unclear exactly how many local employees will be impacted by the closure.

Lowe’s spokeswoman Jackie Hartzell said Orchard employees were told of the closures Tuesday. She said associates would receive job placement assistance and some would qualify for severance pay.

“We are working hard to make this transition as smooth as possible for our associates and our customers,” Hartzell said. “We will be retaining our associates through the store closure process and are encouraging them to apply for open roles at Lowe’s stores, where they will receive priority status.”

Sarah Hayter, Rapid Response Coordinator with the SLO County Workforce Development board, said her staff contacted the local stores soon after hearing of the closure Wednesday morning, and were told Orchard employees would be offered help internally to find new positions. (The Rapid Response group helps local workers displaced by businesses during mass layoffs or closures.)

“However, the HR department at their headquarters mentioned they are familiar with Workforce Development programs and will be putting each store in touch with us soon,” Hayter said.

Local business stakeholders were also concerned by the closure of a large store in their area, saying they hoped a new tenant was found for the soon-to-be-vacant spots quickly.

“We are super disappointed,” said Josh Cross, director of economic development for the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce. “It’s going to be a significant loss in tax revenue to the city.”

He added: “We feel completely sorry for all the workers and managers.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie
Cassandra Garibay: 805-783-7628, @CassandraGari

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