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HartfordTycoon

Lowes Coming to Holyoke

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I don't think Lowe's will put the small hardware stores out of business. The Lowes and Home Depots in CT don't seem to have significantly affected any of the local hardware stores that preceded them. It should actually result in a net gain of shoppers to the area of the mall.

Springfield Republican

Small stores leery of Lowe's

By KEN ROSS

[email protected]

HOLYOKE - Standing near the counter at Highland Hardware & Bike, store owner Harry P. Craven greeted customers by their first names and directed them to toward the products they came to buy.

Liquid fuel, lower shelf.

Fluorescent light bulbs, a few feet away.

Craven's store on Hampden Street has been there since 1946, when his parents, Harry and Mary, opened it.

But Craven and the owner of Holyoke's other independent hardware store, Haberman's Hardware Co. on High Street, said last week they fear their businesses could close if a proposed Lowe's outlet opens near the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside.

"To me, any of these big-box stores, they're corporate giants and kind of predatory retailers," said Craven.

"It (the proposed Lowe's store) is going to destroy independent, small hardware stores," said Hal Haberman. "To try to compete with a big box store will devastating."

Lowe's has said it wants to build a store on an 18-acre parcel on Whiting Farms Road. But in order to do so, the property must be rezoned from industrial to commercial land.

The land is owned by the city-owned Holyoke Gas & Electric Co. On Feb. 26, S.K. Properties Development Co., also known as Konover Properties, of West Hartford, agreed to buy the land for $3 million, but the purchase is contingent upon the land being rezoned.

On Nov. 12, the city's Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend a zone change for the parcel. The proposal must be voted on by the City Council's Ordinance Subcommittee and the council.

The subcommittee plans to discuss the issue on Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Some Holyoke business owners said they want Lowe's to come and that it would not affect their trade.

"I think it would be great," said Phil Theriault, the owner and sole employee of Phil's Used Appliances on Maple Street.

"As far as my business, it (having a Lowe's in Holyoke) helps my business," said Steven F. Bellerose, the co-owner of Taft Power Equipment Co. on Lyman Street. "My money is not in the showroom. It's made in repairs."

Supporters of the Lowe's project have touted the jobs that would be created. According to officials at Lowe's, the new store would create an estimated 80 full-time and 65 part-time jobs.

"We need the jobs," Mayor Michael J. Sullivan said on Nov. 13. "We have an opportunity here for good revenue-producing job development."

But Haberman and Craven noted that Holyoke would lose the jobs at their two stores if they were forced to close. Each store employees eight people.

They also questioned where the workers at the proposed Lowe's store would come from, suspecting that many of them would not be Holyoke residents.

"Where are the workers coming from?" asked Morton A. Haberman, Hal's father. "What's the advantage?"

Six of the eight workers at Craven's store live in Holyoke, including himself. At Haberman's store, six of its eight workers live in the city, including Morton Haberman.

Hal Haberman lives in Longmeadow.

Lowe's officials insist that they always strive to hire local people, according to Maureen A. Rich, a spokeswoman at the corporate headquarters in Mooresville, N.C.

And while Lowe's would bring in additional property tax revenue for the city, Haberman and Craven said the city would receive less property tax money if their two stores closed.

"All of the money that goes into that store (Lowe's) goes to a corporate headquarters," Craven said. "I don't think those box stores are anybody's friend."

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