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TMCNet:  Value City store closing

[October 29, 2008]

Value City store closing

(Tribune-Democrat, The (Johnstown, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 29--After 25 years of bringing discount retail shopping to the Johnstown market, Value City will soon close its doors.

The Columbus, Ohio-based chain filed on Sunday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York. Unlike a normal Chapter 11 proceeding where a company seeks to reorganize, Value City is seeking to liquidate its assets and close its 37 remaining stores, including its Bel Air Plaza location in Richland Township that employs more than 50.

Kristin Mack, spokeswoman for VCHI Acquisitions, which owns the controlling stake in Value City, would only confirm the bankruptcy filing. Employees and management at the company's local store were not permitted to comment.

Alan Frank, senior vice president and general counsel at Capital Commercial Properties, Inc., which owns the building leased by Value City, said his company has not provided with any further information.

"They've only given us a notification of bankruptcy," Frank said from Capital Commercial's offices in Falls Church, Va. "We expect they'll be open through Christmas, but I'm not sure how long after that. But they do have a lot of things in the store they need to sell."

In its court filings, Value City cited difficult market conditions such as high gas prices and low consumer confidence as the reasons for petitioning for bankruptcy. The company also said tightening credit markets have made it difficult to keep proper inventory in its stores.

Vale City is not alone in its struggles. A report released on Tuesday by the state Center for Workforce Information and Analysis showed that Pennsylvania has lost 7,900 retail jobs between September and the same month of the previous year.

Frank said the difficult retail atmosphere was apparently too much for Value City to endure, noting that the company has been struggling to stay afloat for the past several years.

"The company has been shaky for a while," Frank said. "We have already started our search for a new tenant or a new use for the building. It's our hope that we will have someone new in there as soon as possible so we have the jobs back in there as quickly as we can."

The next tenant will be the fourth to call the building home.

It was erected by a retailer called Scot's which gave way to Mason's department store in 1966. Mason's closed in 1981 and was followed by Value City which opened in the spring of 1983.

Frank said he can't be sure who the next tenant will be, or if it will even be another retailer.

"It would be a good place for light industrial or commercial, but the current zoning is not set up for that," Frank said. "I would hope that if we sign a tenant than is a non-retail user that township would work with us on that to get them in there.

"We don't want that building to sit empty. We want to get new jobs in there as quickly as possible."

To see more of The Tribune-Democrat or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.tribune-democrat.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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