A cornerstone of New England retail, Benny’s, is going out of business. After serving New England shoppers since the 1920s, the Bromberg family has decided it’s time to close up shop. Emily Clark reports in the Patriot Ledger on the death of yet another brick and mortar retail institution:
On Friday, the company announced that it will close all 31 of its stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
At the Benny’s in Raynham, shoppers crowded the aisles the day after the announcement. Customer George Cayton said the news for him was personal. He worked at the store when he was a teenager.
“When I heard the news (on TV), I said, ‘Oh, no, they can’t take Benny’s away from me,’” Cayton said.
Benjamin “Benny” Bromberg opened Benny’s Auto Store in Providence, R.I., in the 1920s, when flappers were kicking up their heels and post-World War I America was celebrating newfound freedoms. The company weathered the Great Depression and economic recessions…. It has remained a family-owned business.
Benny’s owns all of its properties, and the ownership will have to decide what to do with the stores, Plymouth Selectmen Chairman Kenneth Tavares said….
“Benny’s is an institution. It’s been that way since I was a little boy,” he said. ”…My mom actually worked for them for a number of years. It’s sad to see it close, and certainly I feel for the employees. It’s going to be a store missed greatly by a lot of people.”
In a statement released Friday, the company said more than 700 employees will be laid off.
The dominance of online retailers and owner retirements contributed to the decision to close the stores, the company said.
“As proud owners of Benny’s, this is an emotional time for us,” Benny’s owner Arnold Bromberg said in the statement. “Benny’s has been something the Bromberg family has invested enormous amounts of capital, time and energy in for nearly a century in this region. We take great pride in what our retail stores have meant to our employees and many loyal customers for so long. But it is simply time. …”
He said the owners could not, in good conscience, leave the business to the next generation of the family, given that market conditions “would so clearly conspire to work against them.”
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