Pamida closes doors for good Jan. 31 By David Lias
Plain Talk After serving more than 25 years as a major retailer in Vermillion, Pamida is closing its doors for good on Saturday, Jan. 31. Decreasing sales brought about by an ever-weakening economy was a key factor in the corporate decision to close the store. â�?�?On Friday (Jan. 23) we announced the closure of 11 stores,â�? said Dean Williamson, vice president of human resources in Pamidaâ�?�?s Omaha, NE office. â�?�?Pamida all together right now operates 215 locations in 17 states.â�? Williamson said there is no geographic pattern to the closings. The Vermillion Pamida is the only one that will close in South Dakota. â�?�?Three of them are Minnesota locations, three are Iowa, two are Kentucky, one is Missouri, and one in Ohio â�?�? theyâ�?�?re not really limited to a narrow region,â�? he said. The last six months has been a particularly difficult time for retailers, Williamson said. â�?�?The economy has definitely had an negative impact,â�? he said. The Vermillion Pamida storeâ�?�?s staff totals approximately 20. Williamson said both management and hourly employees will be offered employment opportunities at other Pamida stores. â�?�?Thatâ�?�?s kind of standard procedure to sit down with people and discuss that,â�? he said. â�?�?It all kind of hinges on whether they are able to and willing to relocate from their particular town. If we have a Pamida store close enough, it may not be unreasonable to make the commute. In other cases, it would mean relocation and thatâ�?�?s a little bit more difficult for people to do. â�?�?But we always try to retain our good people,â�? Williamson said. The Vermillion Pamida store opened its doors in August, 1984. The basic premise of the all Pamida stores has changed little over the years. â�?�?There have been some management changes at Pamida over the years, and each new executive officer has a slightly different twist on the approach Pamida ought to take with respect to product and pricing,â�? Williams said. â�?�?The people of Vermillion who have been faithful Pamida shoppers can probably remember seeing some differences over the years. At times weâ�?�?ve gone for an extreme value proposition where weâ�?�?ve focused on lower-priced goods. â�?�?A little more recently, we chased after more of a branded strategy where we try to bring in the recognizable brand names that people would see in the bigger cities,â�? he added. â�?�?I think the current management philosophy is to offer a blend of both. For the sake of convenience, itâ�?�?s nice to give people the better goods they are going to see in the bigger cities, but youâ�?�?ve got to be out there, too, with some everyday, value-priced product and respect the fact that all of our writers are tighter than they used to be.â�? Williamson didnâ�?�?t have any data concerning recent sales trends at the Vermillion store, or the economic impact closing the business may have on the community. â�?�?We wouldnâ�?�?t be at this point where we are closing the store if things were staying essentially flat, or if it were slightly increasing,â�? he said. â�?�?The reality is for us to make this decision to close the store, sales would have have been in decline. â�?�?The analysis is fairly simple,â�? Williamson said. â�?�?Once it starts costing you more to open the store and pay wages and salaries and pay the utility bills, and invest in the inventory â�?¦ when that costs you more than being in an empty building and just paying the rent check to the landlord every month, you make that decision to close, when it actually hurts the company less to be in a dark location.â�? At one time, Pamida owned the 32,900 square foot Vermillion building. It now leases it from a real estate firm in Arizona. â�?�?When we were acquired in late 2005, part of the transaction involved taking our own properties and entering into a sale-lease transaction,â�? Williamson said. â�?�?We sold our buildings to an Arizona-based real estate investment trust, and then they leased them back, so the landlord for that particular property is based in Arizona.â�?