|Henriette Repolt has worked for 14 years at the Leesburg Ben Franklin store, which is slated to close on Saturday. - Times-Mirror/Ben Hancock|
Bare aisle after bare aisle and an empty frame shop, sitting along a few remaining products marked down to 80 percent off signal the end of a 40-year run for Ben Franklin at its location on Catoctin Circle.
The store will close April 19.
According to co-owner and store manager Danny Garvin, the timing of the closing made sense for multiple reasons.
His mother-in-law, co-owner and co-manager Sharon Parker decided she would retire this year, the lease is up on the building and the economic climate has changed in the past five to six years.
Competition has recently gone up for traditional revenue generating strongholds like Christmas decorations, Garvin said.
He listed hardware big box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot, new craft chains like Michaels, as well as Wal-Mart among the stores Ben Franklin had to compete with over the past few years.
Garvin explained that the store stopped receiving merchandise at the beginning of March and has slowly stepped up discounts to liquidate the remainder of its inventory.
One visitor came in to buy something that had Leesburg marked prominently on it simply because he remembered going to the store as a young boy, Garvin recalls.
There was a time when the current location was once in the NAPA Auto parts store on the other side of the plaza.
That building had a basement where some of the inventory was stocked, and Garvin remembers a time when he was in high school rolling his pants up to grab a toy for a customer from the flooded basement.
According to Garvin, some of his employees have found work once the store closes.
Henriette Repolt, who speaks in a quaint French accent, has not. She pointed to her pin, which had the year 2000 next to her name.
"I've been working here for 14 years," she said. "I need a job. I want to work."
Some employees have been with the location almost since is started.
National franchise Ben Franklin Retail Stores Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 1996, when it had 860 stores across 47 states. Since then the company has shuttered around 700 stores.
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