Lowe's closes two area stores; 195 jobs lost

August 16, 2011 5:01:50 AM PDT
Nearly 200 people are out of work after Lowe's closed two stores in the Chicago area. Employees in Schaumburg and Elgin got the word Sunday night.

The company says the stores are among seven nationwide closed because of disappointing profits.

The employees are supposed to get two months of severance pay, but they will be landing in an already deep pool of people looking for work.

Monday night, employees said the news was made worse by how they were treated.

The sun-worn outline of a Lowe's sign hangs over the now-shuttered home improvement store in Schaumburg.

"In this economy, things should be getting better, so you figure if stores are still open by now, they are it for the long haul, so kinda surprised they closed - it sounds like - suddenly," said Brian Ormanic.

"I just ordered over $6,000 of appliances like two weeks ago - nobody told us anything about anything going on. So now - what do I do?" said LaVere Sell.

Customers and employees appeared to be caught off guard. Employees of the Schaumburg Lowe's said Sunday night they were brought together for a store meeting. Shortly afterward, the sign came down, and they were quickly escorted out of the building.

"I think they completely blindsided everyone - everyone was shocked," said Lowe's employee Drew Byrnes. "Some people just came to this meeting just expecting a normal store meeting telling everyone normal stuff, and some people were just absolutely blown away by the news."

"Lowe's employees - me, myself, my coworkers - this is what we do - help customers - and the way they treated us was bad, it was terrible," said Lowe's employee Mike Juarez.

Lowe's says the Schaumburg store and the Elgin store were not profitable and had to close. With both stores closing, nearly 200 employees are out of work.

"We're not seeing the mass layoffs that we did a couple of years ago, but there's still a lot of people out of work, so when something like this adds more people to those rolls, it's always sad to see," said Monica Keane, executive director of Career Place in Barrington, a center that helps the unemployed launch job searches.

The mayors of Elgin and Schaumburg expressed disappointment with the job losses and hope the employees will find work at other Lowe's or other businesses moving into the area.

Businesses also generate revenue for the municipalities. In Schaumburg, sales tax is forty percent of the village's revenue.

ABC 7 tried to contact Lowe's about how the employees were treated and how the company will handle customers' orders but received no response.

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