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Hudson's Home Depot unaffected by closures

Atlanta-based Home Depot announced last that it will close 15 stores across the nation that are "underperforming" and "do not meet the company's targeted returns."

The closures include three locations in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota. The Hudson store is not affected.

Wisconsin stores slated for closure within the next two months include Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and northwest Milwaukee. The sole Minnesota closure will be its Cottage Grove location.

Other store closures will occur in Indiana (two), Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey (two), New York, North Dakota, Ohio (two) and Vermont, according to a press release posted on Home Depot's corporate Web site.

Company spokesperson Stephen Holmes said Thursday he anticipates the store closing its doors for good in roughly seven to eight weeks, "as long as it takes to sell through the remaining merchandise."

The decision will affect 108 employees at the Cottage Grove store.

"Our heart goes out to the people losing their jobs -- it's a very tough job market," said Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority President and city councilmember Fred Luden.

Holmes said 23 Home Depot locations will remain open in the Twin Cities market, with no plans to close additional stores, leaving ample opportunity to relocate as many of Cottage Grove's employees as possible.

"In terms of our associates, that's really what's most important to us at this point," he said. "We're extremely focused on reviewing their options with them."

Employees unable to be placed elsewhere in the market will be offered 60 days of severance pay. Those who have been with the company longer will be offered more, Holmes said.

The closing comes as an unexpected blow to city officials. Thursday's revelation represents the first time in The Home Depot's history it will close flagship locations.

"With that sort of longevity of their existing stores, it would not be something we would anticipate because the company has not done this sort of thing in the past," said Cottage Grove city administrator Ryan Schroeder.

Schroeder and Luden said the city is interested in meeting with Home Depot officials to discuss what can be expected to occur after the closure. Luden also said he's interested in discovering what worked for the company during its more than five years in Cottage Grove.

"We'd like to find out what went right and what didn't go right at this location," he said.

The company has 1,970 stores nationwide.

The Atlanta-based retailer opened its Cottage Grove outlet in 2002, helping to spur a redevelopment project the city had undertaken in the Gateway North commercial area at 80th Street and East Point Douglas Road.

The shopping center adjacent to Rainbow Foods had "fallen into a level of disrepair," Schroeder said. "Now, there were some stores that were doing fine, but the center itself was looking pretty tired.

When Home Depot came in it provided the opportunity for the center to be rejuvenated, which is what happened -- it was really a good thing."