QUINCY — Quincy will be losing one of its prized national retailers — along with 28 local jobs — when Best Buy closes its doors at the conclusion of business on Saturday.
The company announced in August it would be shutting its Quincy store when the current lease in Prairie Trail Shopping Center expires on Oct. 28, which is Saturday.
Nothing has changed those plans, so Saturday will be the store's final day of operation.
“We don't have anything to add about our decision to not renew the lease beyond what was said in August,” Best Buy spokesman Matt Smith said Thursday.
In August, Smith confirmed that the store would be closing when the current lease expires.
“It's never an easy decision to not renew a store lease,” Smith said at the time. “This was a business decision and has no reflection on our (employees) or the work they have done.”
The Quincy store opened in June 2007 when the company was experiencing a growth boom as part of a national competition with the former Circuit City chain of stores. Circuit City ceased operation and closed all of its retail stores in 2009 after 60 years of business.
Plans to build the 20,000-square-foot building on the northwest side of the shopping center were submitted to the city in 2005, but it wasn't until January 2007 that officials with the retailer confirmed that it would open.
“Looking back, it's clear we overbuilt,” Smith said in August.
Smith told The Herald-Whig's news-gathering partners at WGEM that the Quincy store never fully recovered from the 2008 recession and has been struggling with declining sales for the last four years. However, it avoided earlier store closures, as when 50 stores were shuttered in 2012.
Patrons visiting the Best Buy store this week noticed that the store wasn't holding any sort of going-out-of-business liquidation sale.
Instead, Smith said Thursday, “merchandise will be transferred to other stores.”
Local officials involved in economic development programs said they were sorry to see Best Buy pulling out of Quincy.
“Obviously we hate to lose any jobs at all, and we especially hate to lose a national retailer — especially one that's got a big name like Best Buy,” said Marcel Wagner Jr., president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation. “But that's a corporate decision.”
Smith told The Herald-Whig that Best Buy is “renewing nearly all of our leases as they come up,” but not in the case of the Quincy store.
Wagner is hopeful that another retailer will come along to fill the space being vacated at Prairie Trail Shopping Center.
“That center is in a very good location with Lowe's and Dick's Sporting Goods” and several other popular businesses, he said. “I would hope that the building owners could find another national tenant.”
A spokesman for the Sansone Group in St. Louis, which owns and markets the shopping center, could not be reached for comment.
Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development for the city of Quincy, said he hasn't heard any talk about a potential new tenant for the Best Buy location.
“No one has contacted me to say they're interested in the property,” he said.
Bevelheimer said the city would know if another major retailer is interested in the site because the city would have to issue a sign permit before a retailer could put up a different sign in front of the building.
But right now, I've not had any conversations with any interested party about that property,” he said. “I've not heard any rumors. I've not heard any comments that the property is going to be redeveloped anytime soon.”
Bevelheimer noted that “nobody can really do anything” until the retail space is actually available, “and it's not available yet,” he said. “So it doesn't surprise me that we haven't heard anything yet.”
Wagner said many of the employees being laid off at Best Buy — through no fault of their own — will be seeking unemployment benefits through the Illinois Department of Employment Security. However, he said if any of the workers are eager to find a new job soon, plenty are available in Quincy.
“We have a lot of jobs in the community that are begging for somebody to fill them,” he said.
For example, during the MakerFest last week at the Oakley-Lindsay Center — an event featuring 20 local manufacturers — “every company there was looking for people,” Wagner said. “So, I think there are opportunities.”