Retailer to close doors in Proctorville

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2000

PROCTORVILLE – Village and county officials reacted with surprise Monday when Quality Stores Inc.

Tuesday, July 25, 2000

PROCTORVILLE – Village and county officials reacted with surprise Monday when Quality Stores Inc. of Muskegon, Mich., announced it will close its Proctorville store, citing a decline in trade.

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"There’s going to be job loss," Proctorville village administrator Rick Dunfee said. "Some people who worked there are middle-aged with families that are unable to relocate."

Quality Farm and Fleet came to Proctorville about seven years ago, selling the same merchandise as Southern States Inc., Proctorville mayor Jim Buchanan said.

"All of the farmers in this area used Southern States Inc. (as their primary supplier) and Quality Farm and Fleet came in and tried to draw some of the local farmers to their business, and by the looks of it, it didn’t work," Buchanan said.

The closure means 15 to 20 store employees will lose their local jobs, but will be offered positions at other Quality locations, Quality Stores vice president of marketing and advertising Jack Feichtner said in a news release Monday.

Employees willing to relocate will have about eight weeks to think about where they want to move, as the company projects a two-month period of phasing out operations.

"Quality Stores Inc. had to close this Quality Farm and Fleet because the store was no longer an economically viable location," Feichtner said in the release.

Feichtner refused to comment further than what was stated in the release. Store employees and managers would not comment Monday afternoon.

Lawrence Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) executive director Pat Clonch said she hated to see Proctorville lose Quality Farm and Fleet.

"It’s really the first loss for Proctorville in a long time," Mrs. Clonch said.

"I think we have to be aware of the fact that location is everything," she said. "We just don’t have an agricultural economy there anymore."

Although the village will lose property tax and other revenue from the store’s closure, it is likely that another corporation will take advantage of the vacant building and sign a new lease, Dunfee said.

"I’m sure the way this area’s growing that some corporation will move in there," he said.

The LEDC sold bonds to construct the building when Heck’s opened there about 10 years ago and the building is well-suited for another retailer, Mrs. Clonch said.

"There will be someone waiting for that site," she said.

Feichtner said Quality Farm and Fleet’s closure – effective Wednesday – is a move "to strengthen our position in the marketplace by realigning our facilities."

Quality Stores operates 368 stores around the country and is in the process of changing all store names to Quality Farm and Country, the news release stated.

During Farm and Fleet’s initial establishment in Proctorville, the company put all available store space to use, Buchanan said.

"At one time they probably had up to 60 employees," he said.

Buchanan said he estimates that the use of space was downsized close to 50 percent within the last three years.

"Over the years, I just saw them downsizing," he said. "They haven’t been in the village that long. As far as the village paying any attention to them – we really haven’t.

"They dealt with a lot of merchandise, just like Lowes would, and Southern States Inc. just dealt strictly with the farmers. Quality Farm and Fleet was more of a general store. They had clothing and everything."

Buchanan said the impact on local farmers will not be as severe as the Farm and Fleet employees, because farmers can still deal with Southern States Inc.

"Southern States Inc. is a pretty good size outfit," he said.

However, some farmers might be driving out of their way, Dunfee said.

"No doubt it will have some effect on some farmers picking up supplies," he said. "It will be an inconvenience for them having to drive to Huntington, W.Va."