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Published: Saturday, 6/23/2007

Menards adding 2 stores in metro area

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The battle for metro Toledo do-it-yourselfers will heat up again next year with the arrival of two more big-box home-improvement stores.

Menards Inc., of Eau Claire, Wis., has begun work on a store in North Toledo off Alexis Road at Benore Road and is awaiting issuance of a building permit from the city of Oregon for a store off Navarre Avenue near I-280 and Curtice Road.

The stores will open in summer 2008, a company spokesman said.

They will be the metro area's 11th and 12th home-improvement Goliaths. The crowd includes five stores operated by Home Depot Inc. of Atlanta, and four operated by Lowe's Companies Inc. of Mooresville, N.C.

Menards, which is the only privately held company of the trio, opened its first metro area store two years ago off Airport Highway in Holland. At the Alexis Road site yesterday, pipes lay in stacks ready to be buried, and a heavy-equipment operator was preparing the ground for construction.

The Menards expansion is beginning just as the home-improvement sector is experiencing problems attributed to a tepid housing market, competition, and homeowner reluctance to finance big projects.

Both Lowe's and Home Depot earlier this month reported quarterly financial results that were weaker than the prior year.

Home Depot, which has been under pressure from stockholders, said sales fell 4 percent and profits slipped 3 percent to $1.1 billion.

"We believe that our sales performance has been and could continue to be negatively impacted by the level of competition that we encounter in various markets," executives said in a regulatory filing.

Lowe's reported that comparable store sales were down 6 percent from a year earlier.

Tim Oswald, owner of Do It Best Hardware stores in Sylvania and Lambertville, said the arrival of additional home improvement stores will take a bite out of his sales.

"We're already oversaturated with big boxes in the Toledo area, especially with the economy being weak," he said. "I don't know why they keep moving into this area."

But with local managers of the big boxes carefully tracking each other's prices, the new stores could be a boon to budget-conscious shoppers.

The Menards' expansion occurs nearly three years after the chain originally planned to begin construction on the stores.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.


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