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Stores to close

Ames employs more than 200 in area

Ames employs more than 200 in area

August 15, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

While store employees were surprised to learn Wednesday that Ames will be closing its remaining stores, some shoppers expected the news.

"I was almost expecting it," said Lisa Easter, shopping at Ames in the shopping center on Dual Highway on Wednesday.

The Ames south of Charleston, W.Va., where she has relatives, closed last Christmas, Easter said.

Ames Department Stores Inc. announced Wednesday morning that all 327 stores would close in approximately 10 weeks, leaving 22,000 people without jobs.

Ames has stores in Hagerstown, Frederick, Md., Mount Airy, Md., Waynesboro, Pa., and Chambersburg, Pa., that employ a total of 101 full-time and 119 part-time workers, according to www.ames stores.com.

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Hagerstown Store Manager Kevin Gardner said the news came as a surprise.

The corporate office notified employees Wednesday morning, Gardner said.

A store employee on a break outside the Dual Highway store said employees were not allowed to speak to the media.

That morning there were no signs on the outside of the Ames store announcing its impending closing. There was still a sign reading, "Now hiring" posted on a front window.

Liquidation sales are to begin at all Ames stores Sunday, according to the store's Web site.

A regular shopper at Ames, Easter, 32, of Boonsboro, said she would miss the discount store.

"It just can't compete," said Easter, who said she also shops at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart came up often when Ames customers were interviewed Wednesday outside the Dual Highway store.

Albert Dlhosh said he does most of his shopping at Wal-Mart, but stopped at Ames Wednesday because Wal-Mart was sold out of a fan he wanted.

"You just can't beat Wal-Mart," said Dlhosh, of Fayetteville, Pa. He said he can shop for groceries and pick up his prescription there.

Before Wal-Mart opened in Hagerstown, Dlhosh said he shopped more often at Ames.

"I'm kind of surprised they held on this long with their prices," Dlhosh said.

Laura Blickenstaff, 42, of Hagerstown's North End, said she doesn't shop much at Ames or Wal-Mart. She was at Ames on Wednesday because it was near another place she had to go.

If Ames had marketed itself better, including with television commercials, Blickenstaff said she might have been more aware of the store and shopped there more often.

"If you don't really come out this way, you don't think about it," she said.

D. Koser said she lives near Ames, but doesn't shop there often.

"I usually end up going somewhere else," Koser said. Koser said she remembered having to wait in long lines at Ames, which might be why she hasn't shopped there more often.

Still, Koser said she might miss Ames since it was handy having it nearby.

Catherine Lynn said she won't shop at Wal-Mart because it takes too long to navigate through the Centre at Hagerstown to get to a store.

She said she shops at Ames and Kmart, but was concerned about the Kmart discount chain's future. Kmart has filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Lynn learned about Ames' closing at a bank earlier Wednesday morning and went to the store, where she was planning on shopping anyway for a hamper and trash bags.

"Isn't that awful?" said Lynn, 83, of the North End. "I think that's terrible. I really do, because I buy a lot of things over here."

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