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Kirkland”s will close NorthPark store

Kirkland”s will close NorthPark store

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Jennifer DeWitt

 Kirkland's, a home décor store, will exit the Quad-City market with the closing later this month of its store at NorthPark Mall in Davenport.

The Jackson, Tenn.-based chain closed its store at SouthPark Mall in Moline a year ago.

Donna Meyer, the NorthPark store's manager, said the store will close April 30 or sooner if all the merchandise sells before that. "I've got one more 24-foot truck (of merchandise) coming in this week," she said Thursday.

Even with the closing, Meyer said she is hopeful the Quad-Cities can show that the store is wanted here. She said the company indicated "it is up to the Quad-City people if they want one, before they look at putting one back here."

But there is precedence for that, she said, "I guess there was one time way back when there was (a store saved) after there were women picketing in the street."

Customers are being encouraged to show their support by filling out comment cards being provided at the store. "We've had so much support," said Meyer, who has worked at the store since it opened eight years ago, managing it for the past seven years. "They might take a second look."

The closing will put 12 people out of work, including three full-time employees, she said.

"The public is so upset about it," she said, adding that she's had some customers even crying. The store draws its customers from across the Quad-City region and as far away as Muscatine and Dubuque, Iowa, and Galesburg, Ill.

The departure will make Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the closest markets where Kirkland's operates.

Though she said she was not privy to the decision behind closing the Davenport store, Meyer said the store's lease was up in January. She added that the overhead from being in the mall was cutting into the store's profitability.

The closing comes at a time when Kirkland's is in an expansion mode. According to the company's fourth quarter earnings report, it expects to open 50 to 55 new stores in 2004 while closing between 10 and 15. The company added a net 31 stores in 2003.

"While devoting significant resources to this growth plan, we also intend to focus considerable attention on improving the productivity of our existing stores," Robert Alderson, the company's president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement in the earnings report released two weeks ago. "We were not satisfied with our sales performance in fiscal 2003, and we are actively pursuing improvements in logistics, store operations, merchandising and marketing that are intended to drive better sales performance in fiscal 2004."

Originally focused in the Southeast, the company now operates 280 stores in 34 states. It was co-founded in 1966 by the current chairman Carl Kirkland. The first store was opened in Jackson, Tenn.

Jennifer DeWitt can be reached at (563) 383-2318 or jdewitt@qctimes.com.

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