Archive for Thursday, October 14, 1993

S TO CLOSE DOORS EARLY NEXT YEAR

October 14, 1993

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A bit of Americana will disappear from downtown Lawrence early next year when the Woolworth Corp. closes its variety store at 913 Mass.

``We will be done with business on or before January 30, 1994,'' said store manager Margaret Bishop. About 30 employees, one-third of whom were full-time workers, will lose their jobs, she said.

The Lawrence store is one of 970 stores Woolworth has targeted for closing as part of a corporate restructuring designed to raise profits. Officials at the 114-year-old company said they have struggled in recent years to replace revenues lost to large discount chains that locate outside downtown areas.

In announcing the plan, Woolworth officials said about 250 of the targeted stores will be transformed into other retail formats controlled by the company. Those include Foot Locker shoe stores, RX Place drug stores and Northern Reflections women's apparel stores.

But Bishop said she doesn't expect the Lawrence store to get a new lease on life.

``I have not been notified of any plans to put any other store in here,'' she said. ``Personally, I think it's unlikely.''

Bishop said she was saddened by the announcement, which marked the end of an era in which the five-and-dime store was a cornerstone of American life.

``It seems like everybody either went to Woolworth's when they were a little kid or worked for Woolworth's'' as a teen-ager, she said.

The store still has its lunch counter, a Woolworth standard for generations, but Bishop said that part of the business probably would close before the store itself.

Bishop also said the store's closing also would leave a gap in downtown, which has no other variety store.

``Woolworth's has been a part of Lawrence for many, many years. There's things you can buy at Woolworth's that you can't get anywhere else,'' she said, and listed certain kinds of makeup, hair nets and craft supplies. ``Just a lot of odds and ends,'' she said.

Jack Gaumnitz, a principal in Jell Corp., which owns the building Woolworth's occupies, said he had not been notified that the store would close. Gaumnitz said the building, which has two floors of retail space, contains more than 40,000 square feet.

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