Like a rotting foundation, a long list of home improvement retailers are falling apart. In northeastern Ohio, the DIY Home Warehouse, which at one time had 14 regional stores, has announced that it is closing its 6 remaining stores due to “competition” from giants like Home Depot and Lowe’s. DIY said “given the continued competitive pressures from national warehouse retailers in its markets”, it could not longer turn a profit. According to the National Home Center News, Home Depot and Lowe’s have around 20 stores in the Ohio communities where DIY lived. DIY was 16 years old when it died. (Home Depot is 23 years old). In March, the 31 store Pergament dealer, based in Melville, NY, was forced into bankruptcy, and last January Irvine, California based HomeBase annnounced that it was closing 22 stores and converting 62 others into “home decorating outlets”. “We fought a good fight,” HomeBase told its investors. At one point in time, HomeBase was part of Waban, Inc, which also owned BJ’s wholesale club, but the companies split paths in 1996. Other casualties include the Hill Behan retailer in St. Louis, and Lowe’s bought out 30 Eagle hardware stores in September of 2000. Then there are the companies forced into chapter 11: Payless Cashways, Frank’s Nursery, West Lumber, and Woodworker’s Warehouse. Hundreds of workers got nailed in this process.
“Challenging market conditions” is how the analysts describe the shakeout in the home improvement market.Even industry leader Home Depot has suffered this past year, with a change in leadership, sagging store sales, and weakening consumer confidence. As these regional chains die, we will be left with the choice of orange or blue building supplies. When giants fight, its the little people who get trampled.