Silverdale won't be a HomeBase for House2Home

"When competition among home improvement stores became too fierce to make a profit, HomeBase took measures to roll with the punches. In the last year, company officials have worked on a plan to shift the firm's focus and eke out a new niche. And that niche, HomeBase officials announced this week, doesn't include Silverdale.(Competition) affected our decision to exit the home improvement business - House2Home doesn't compete in that market, said HomeBase spokeswoman Michele Feller. Corporate leaders initially decided to convert 60 of their 89 sites into House2Home stores, which sell indoor and outdoor home decor products.But even as plans were in the works, economic indicators signaled a slowdown and the company decided to close 26 stores, and convert only 42. The Silverdale HomeBase store, at 9577 Ridgetop Blvd., is among those that will be closed.Feller said faltering economic conditions forced the company to rethink its entry into colder-climate markets.I think the company was fearful that customers who live in cold climates might be less willing to buy outdoor products that they could only use a few months out of the year, Feller said. Stores in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Texas will be closed. The Silverdale store closed March 27-28 to prepare for liquidation and reopened 6 a.m. Thursday, March 29, with reduced prices.I've never seen it so busy in here, I'll tell you that, said a HomeBase employee Thursday morning. Employees were warned not to speak with the media, so most spoke on condition of anonymity.Bargain hunters arrived early to stock up for spring remodeling projects, but store employees said the prices would continue to drop over the next several weeks.We've been thinking of doing some remodeling anyway, and this was a good time, said Sabrina Younter as she and Richard Huddy loaded their cart with painting supplies. We hate to see the jobs go, though, that's the worst thing.HomeBase, which opened in Silverdale in April 1992, employs about 100 people, all of whom will lose their jobs when the store closes its doors in about 11 weeks. Employees who stay on through liquidation will receive severance pay, Feller said.Feller declined to say whether the building was owned or leased by HomeBase, but a store employee said it is owned by the firm and will be put up for sale.The Irvine, Calif.-based company has struggled with low stock prices in the last year. Officials say they expect to post a loss of about $3.50 to $3.75 per share when the first quarter ends in April. They anticipate even greater losses at the end of the fiscal year, according to a Rueters analysis printed on the MSN moneycentral Web site. Essentially, HomeBase will no longer exist after the transition, she said. Right now we are focused on completing the transition, but we are eyeing opportunities to grow after we get our feet under us. "

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