Sonora's Orchard Supply store escapes closure

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

The Orchard Supply Hardware store in Sonora is staying put.

Store management this week confirmed the local hardware retail store survived the company's recent bankruptcy and buyout process and will continue to operate under the Orchard Supply brand.

Earlier this year, San Jose-based Orchard Supply Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection and sold most of its holdings - including 72 stores - to national hardware giant Lowe's.

A number of OSH stores were not included in the acquisition and have since closed, including locations in Lodi and Merced. The stores that remain open, including in Sonora, will remain subsidiaries of Lowe's.

A recent announcement from the North Carolina-based Lowe's stated that Orchard Supply's smaller format gives it opportunities to enter "high-density, prime locations that are difficult for larger format retailers to enter."

According to Steve Mahurin, Orchard Supply's chief retail officer, the Sonora store will continue to serve its role as a neighborhood home and garden supplier with a focus on paint and repairs.

"As we move forward with renewed financial strength, we look forward to becoming an even more active member of the local community," Mahurin said.

The Sonora Orchard Supply store is in the Sonora Plaza on Mono Way, just blocks away from Lowe's on Old Wards Ferry Road. Orchard stores are smaller than Lowe's, with about 36,000 square feet of selling space compared with 113,000 square feet for Lowe's.

Some products overlap, such as hardware, lumber and garden supplies, although Lowe's has a more extensive inventory including kitchen and laundry appliances.

Orchard Supply was spun off from Sears Holdings Corp. in January 2012, and most of its locations are in densely populated California markets. Orchard Supply filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in June after an offer by Lowe's to buy the smaller chain became public. Lowe's offered at the time to buy the Orchard name and most of its stores for $205 million.

If the local Orchard Supply store had not survived, it would have been the second major hardware store in Sonora to close in as many years. Andy's Hardware closed in 2011 after more than 50 years of operating on Mono Way.

The purchase appears to have been a positive move for Lowe's, at least short-term, as the company announced this week that $499 million in earnings for the most recent quarter.

That is up 26 percent over the same period last year, according to a press release from Lowe's corporate headquarters.

The Union Democrat
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