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Andersons retail unit lays off 21 as closing process begins

Company: Expect more terminations after Easter

The beginning of the end of The Andersons’ stores started Tuesday with the permanent layoff of 21 employees at the company’s inventory distribution center on Ford Street in Maumee.

“We handed out 21 severance packages [Tuesday],” said Kate Langenderfer, a spokesman for the Monclova Township-based agribusiness.

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Shoppers at The Andersons store on Talmadge Road in West Toledo will find many empty shelves and depleted inventory.

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The remaining 21 workers at the distribution center, which some workers said is now empty, will take place in the coming weeks.

The biggest layoffs for the company — which announced in mid-January that it would exit the retail business this spring and close its two Toledo area stores plus two others in Columbus — are expected to come in three weeks.

And bigger sales than normal have begun on some merchandise as The Andersons Inc. prepares to wind down its stores.

Ms. Langenderfer said the company has no firm date for when the layoffs of 1,050 workers will start and progress, but employees said they have been warned to expect waves of layoffs after Easter.

In its notice to the state last month about the layoffs, The Andersons said initial job terminations would begin on April 9 and April 23. Easter is on April 16.

The last jobs will be eliminated by June 9, the state notice said, but employees said it could be sooner depending on how quickly the stores run out of merchandise once a liquidation sale starts.

For now, The Andersons has been offering discounts of 10 to 50 percent on much of its merchandise and shoppers have taken advantage.

The stores, which have been around at least four decades, have some empty shelving, showing a depletion of some inventory. Home improvement products are mostly gone at the Talmadge Road store in Toledo, and the company no longer will take special orders. Plus home goods and furniture have large open spaces or vacant shelves at the Talmadge store.

Inside the stores, the House of Meats has plenty of fresh meat, poultry, and fish and will continue to operate as usual up until Easter, said House of Meats co-owner Kate Horner.

“We will be in pretty short order starting to close our Columbus stores” inside The Andersons, Ms. Horner said. “Up until Easter we’re good, but we’re really unsure what’s going to happen after that.”

Ms. Horner said she was told that after April 16 the stores will begin liquidating its remaining merchandise.

“When things start discounting, no one knows how fast will it go,” she added.

The House of Meats is eliminating the jobs of 40 employees in Columbus and has no plans to relocate the workers, Ms. Horner explained.

Locally, 55 House of Meats workers will be displaced with the closing of The Andersons. But Ms. Horner said her firm is trying to get zoning approval for a new store in Maumee that would need many of those workers. She said she hopes the company’s remaining three stores will absorb those who aren’t needed at the Maumee store.

Since news of The Andersons’ store closings broke, the House of Meats has experienced a growth in sales volume at its other three stores, Ms. Horner said.

But, “If there's any one thing, any lesson to be learned from The Andersons, it is to shop local,” Ms. Horner said. “That’s the only way any of us local businesses are going to survive.”

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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