Elgin mourns Lowe's closing, looks ahead to Walmart, Sam's Club
As 84 employees of the Elgin Lowe's home improvement store plan their next steps after finding out they are unemployed, city officials discussed what the store closing means for Elgin's budget and about the city's economic environment.
The Randall Road store -- and six others nationwide -- closed for good Sunday, news to store employees and shoppers alike. But Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said the closing is a commentary on the national chain more than on Elgin.
"This is just reflective of what is happening with Lowe's on a broader scale," Kozal said. "They needed to find areas to cut, and it makes sense they're going to take the lower-performing stores."
Lowe's spokeswoman Stacy Lentz said the Elgin store routinely missed sales estimates since it opened in 2007, marking it for closure.
When business wrapped up Sunday, employees were told the store would not reopen the next day. In line with legal requirements, they will continue to receive benefits and pay for 60 days, according to Lentz.
Elgin Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lavery requested sales tax reports for Lowe's from the state but will not know for weeks how the closing will affect the city's budget for the rest of this year and in the future.
Mayor David Kaptain said he is concerned about surrounding businesses, filling the soon-to-be vacant building and, most importantly, the employees who lost their jobs.
"I don't know if there are places that are going to absorb them because of the job market," Kaptain said.
But with the bad comes more promising news. Kozal said Walmart is scheduled to open at Bowes and Randall roads in time for the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. And the company will continue with phase two of its plan and open a Sam's Club next year.
"That is evidence of the strength of the Elgin retail market," Kozal said.