Lowe’s not coming to town

4 mins read

FARMINGTON – Lowe’s, the second largest hardware chain store in the U.S., has put a halt on its plans to build a store here. At least one local building supply owner said he’s not surprised at the news.

In late November 2008, Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. had submitted plans for a 138,893 square foot store, surrounded with 400 parking spaces on a 17-acre parcel at the corner of Wilton Road or Routes 2&4 and Whittier Road. An estimated 115 to 120 full- and part-time jobs would have been needed to hire for a Lowe’s that size. Now a cow pasture and owned by Edith McCleery, the location proposed by Lowe’s is across the Wilton Road from the Hannaford’s shopping center.

Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers, Inc. of Gray, presented the preliminary plans for a Lowe’s retail home improvement and appliance store on Monday, Dec. 8 to the planning board. If everything had gone as planned, construction would have begun later this year.

After the preliminary plans were introduced in December, the building application was expected this month, but never came. The McCleery family received word the deal had fallen through and then told Kaiser, who was soon notified by the engineering firm and Lowe’s representative Tod Morey the plans had been halted.

“For obvious economic reasons, they have decided to cease work on the project,” said Steve Kaiser, Farmington’s code enforcement officer. He noted that of the 150 new stores Lowe’s planned to build across the country this year, the Farmington site was number 130. Scaling back their plans, the number of new stores actively in the works now stands at 50, Kaiser said, “and that may change,” he added.

The site plan included more than 70,000 square feet of indoor retail space, 27,720 square feet of an attached fenced-in garden center area, an additional 40,237 square feet for an indoor lumber yard, retail management offices, interior receiving and storage areas, outdoor staging and loading areas, said Al Palmer, senior vice president of Gorrill-Palmer.

Mark Bennett at Dexter Building Supply Co. in East Wilton, said he was amazed Lowe’s was thinking of building a store here in the first place. His store is a building supply store a few miles west on Wilton Road from the proposed Lowe’s site in Farmington.

“There’s just not that much business here,” he said. “I didn’t see how they could ever support it here. They could suck the life blood out of all the local stores and they still wouldn’t break even.”

Brenda Fronk at Aubuchon’s Hardware Store, also on the Wilton Road in Farmington said, the store not coming is “unfortunate,” but “there are enough challenges with this economy. We don’t need another big box in town.”

Al Feather, Hammond Lumber’s manager in Farmington, said Lowe’s coming or not coming doesn’t seem to affect their business. He said their customer service, employee experience and delivery service are the reasons why customers at the eight other Hammond Lumber locations that happen to be near chain stores do better.

“They just don’t have the type of experience we have,” Feather said of the chain stores. “Generally we do alright even if a big chain store opens nearby.” He added that Lowe’s carries not only lumber but hardware and garden supplies so it is only a small part of what they specialize in offering their customers.

Based in N. Wilkesboro, N.C., Lowe’s was founded in 1946 and has grown to more than 1,500 stores in North America, according to its Web site: www.lowes.com It’s the second largest hardware chain behind The Home Depot.

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