LAURINBURG — A contractor and building supply store that has been a part of the Laurinburg community for more than 30 years has closed its doors.
Carter Lumber, on Highland Road, made its last sale Thursday. By Monday morning, the letters on the outside of the building had been painted over and manager Bob Chenault and his seven-person team were working to box up and ship out the store’s remaining materials.
According to a statement released by the company Friday, several locations were closed in an effort to “consolidate” operations and “reallocate” business to stores that have opened in the past 18 months — in Baltimore; Washington D.C.; Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and the Outer Banks.
“I understand why they’re doing it,” Chenault said. “There’s no growth here, they’re pulling out of markets where there’s not a whole lot of growth for sales. Unfortunately here in Scotland County there is none. Most of our products have been going out of the county, but as far as I feel about it, well, how can you feel about it? You’ve got to go job-hunting again.”
The Laurinburg store is one of 26 locations that closed Friday, according to the release, including 13 in Ohio, two in Michigan, five in Indiana, one in Pennsylvania and one in Kentucky. The company operates a total of 143 facilities.
Chenault said that while he was there, the store regularly turned a profit.
“Thats the difficult part with industry, or retention in general in companies,” said Greg Icard, the county’s economic developer. “You have people outside the community who are making the decisions, and at the end for the day they’re going to make the decision where they think they will maximize their profits and minimize costs.”
According to Chenault, who has managed the Laurinburg store since April 1992, the company purchased the property in 1976, and the store opened one or two years later. The store, which employed seven people at an average wage of $12 an hour, sold plumbing, electrical and heating materials as well as offered a full selection of lumber.
“I feel like it’s going to hurt some of the contractors,” Chenault said. “… There’s only one store now and that doesn’t give anybody two choices anymore, so I think it’s going to affect a lot of those guys who will have to drive longer to get materials.”
Chenault estimated the store’s staff would be working through Thanksgiving or the week before to finish clearing the merchandise from the building.
“I’m looking at my options at this point,” he said. “… I’ll probably stick around a little while.”
“Ultimately it kind of underlines the importance of jobs,” Icard said. “We want to try to avoid that kind of thing if possible, but unfortunately it is often outside of our control.”