Today is Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mt. Juliet hhgregg to close as part of massive shutdown

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The Mt. Juliet hhgregg is one of 88 stores that will close as part of the company's "turnaround efforts."

The store is located at 56 Belinda Parkway and the company also plans to close three distribution facilities to "align more closely with its strategic goals to improve liquidity and return to profitability."

In a press release, hhgregg President and CEO Robert J. Riesbeck explained the massive shutter of stores nationwide. Current inventory at the Mt. Juliet store will be sold over the next few weeks with a complete closure by mid-April. About 1,500 jobs will be lost across the U.S. One hundred thirty-two stores will remain open in a multi-regional chain for the electronics, appliance and home furnishings business.

"We are strategically exiting markets and stores that are not financially profitable for us," said Riesbeck said. "This is a proactive decision to streamline our store footprint in the markets where we have been, and will continue to be, important to our customers, vendor partners and communities. We feel strongly that the markets we will remain in are the right ones for our customers and our business model.

"The management team has worked tirelessly over the past year to return hhgregg to profitability," continued Riesbeck. "We have determined that the economics of the affected locations will not allow us to achieve our overall goal of becoming a profitable company again. After scrutinizing our real estate portfolio, we have identified a number of underperforming stores, as well as store locations that are no longer strong shopping destinations due to changes in the local retail shopping landscape."

What now?

This official announcement about hhgregg closing in Mt. Juliet falls on the heels of recent, false rumors circulating that Gander Mountain and JC Penney in Mt. Juliet might be in jeopardy. Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenneth Martin addressed those rumors at the city commission meeting last week and said they were, to the best of his knowledge, just rumors stemmed from the recent announcement 140 JC Penney stores will close in the coming months and Gander Mountain's public announcement it is restructuring how they operate as a company.

"I have spoken with various business officials and reps and according to them business is good and they have no plans for their stores to be impacted," Martin said Tuesday. "Currently we do not believe that Gander Mountain will close, nor do we believe that our JC Penney will be one of the 140 JC Penney Stores to close in the coming months. Of course, we know there are no guarantees with any business, so we can never say never."

Martin noted, "business is great" in Mt. Juliet and 2016 was the city's "best year yet."

"Business closings are an unfortunate part of business attrition and normal," he said. "It hurts when it occurs, but when one business closes, another soon opens in its old space or place. Sometimes the business that replaces the closing business is a better fit and benefit to the community, so some business closings, although not good for the company or the business that is closing, can lead to a blessing for our community when a new business takes its place."

Martin mentioned businesses that were once staples in our communities and no longer exist such as Circuit City, Borders, Woolworths, Tower records, Blockbuster Video, Steak and Ale, Bennigan's, Sambo's, Howard Johnson's, Burger Chef, Kenny Roger's Roasters and many more.

"Although sad, they were all eventually replaced by other businesses we now have today," Martin said. "Thankfully there are many national retailers and other businesses already looking at this location along with many more looking to locate to our great city."

The city manager pointed out Mt. Juliet sales taxes were highest on record in 2016 and its share of the local option sales tax rose $44,000 over the prior year Christmas season to $1.234 million, or a 5.78 percent increase. Martin said Mt. Juliet represented 45.17 percent of total Wilson County collections.

City manager says Mt. Juliet's business future is bright

Martin reiterated the cycle of businesses and the many that no longer exist today.

"We hate to see any business close, especially some of our personal favorites, business closings are a natural part of business and always will be," he said. "Every community has business openings and closings, but we are blessed to have multiple businesses opening each year."

The hhgregg location would be good for another retailer, or "maybe even a family fun or bowling center would be great," said Martin.

He said there's been some buzz and interest in the building.

"Currently there are many-many new businesses looking to locate to Mt. Juliet that will be a great addition to our city and community, so please rest assure that business is great in Mt. Juliet," Martin said. "This is going to be another great business year for our city so please keep the new business suggestions coming. I think you will like the many businesses either committed to locating to Mt. Juliet or currently considering a new location for Mt. Juliet. This is yet another reason why we must support our local business community. They need us and we need them."

A complete list of all the hhgregg's slated to close reveals Ohio, Alabama, Virginia, Maryland, Florida and Maryland along with Tennessee and several other states.

"I want to thank each and every manager and associate in our stores and distribution centers, and their families, for their continued efforts, contributions and support," said Riesbeck. "I understand this is not an easy process to go through; our history has shown that our team members will meet this challenge head-on and continue to support our customers and each other through the closing process."

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