MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Manchester — and possibly more throughout New Hampshire — closed abruptly Sunday night, leaving hundreds out of work.
Standing in a group of collective surprise and anger, several of the Manchester store’s ex-employees said they were told in an “emergency meeting” Sunday night that the store was closing immediately. They cried, hugged and clutched manila envelopes they said contained their severance packages.
“Gut wrenching is a good way to say it,” said ex-cashier Michelle Fahnestock, who said she was on her way to a bar. “I’m going to drink my sorrows away.”
“I really wish I smoked,” said Sarah Ebner, who worked in customer service, as her ex-colleagues puffed away. “There were rumors going around, so we pretty much figured it out.”
A manager at the Manchester store, whose name tag identified her as Kim, provided a reporter with the telephone number for Lowe’s corporate media relations officer Julie Yenichek, who did not answer at that number or at a cell phone number Yenichek provided in a recording. She did not return several calls seeking comment.
“This is absolutely heartbreaking,” said Kristen Doiron, a former head cashier.
An employee at the Hooksett store, who asked that he not be identified because he did not want to jeopardize an extra month of work he said he was offered, said Hooksett employees found out in a similar “emergency meeting” Sunday night that the Hooksett store would close Nov. 13.
In the parking lot of the Manchester store, Bob Arsenault and Bob Slater, respectively the managers of the Manchester and Nashua Lumber Liquidators stores, handed out flyers telling people to go to lumberliquidators.com to apply for a job.
“We knew there were going to be a lot of good people in a bad situation here,” Slater said.
Slater said he’d heard of the Lowe’s closings “through the grapevine. We’re looking to hire right now. We’re still in the growing phase of the company, but we knew we might be able to pick up some quality people.”
According to the retail giant’s website, Lowe’s was founded in 1946 and is the world’s second-largest hardware retailer. It is headquartered in Mooresville, N.C., and has more than 1,700 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico, the website said.
Allison Orlowski, who worked as a cashier at the Manchester store, said she thought Lowe’s would never shut down.
“I’m very surprised and sad,” she said. “I always thought it was secure.”
Hope Lemieux said her father worked at the Manchester store and that she called Lowe’s corporate offices Saturday to try to get confirmation on whether the store would close.
“I was told that no, the store was not closing,” she said. “Yeah, right.”
(c)2011 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)
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