Posted: Apr 9, 2013 10:23 AM by MTN News
Updated: Apr 9, 2013 10:42 AM
MISSOULA - Vann's is shuttering two western Montana stores and moving business operations to Bozeman.
Vann's has announced plans to close its stores in Missoula and Hamilton after the company was unable to work out a deal to stay in their present locations. Vann's has been a fixture in Missoula since it first opened in 1961.
Vann's Acquisition purchased the locally owned company from founder Pete Vann last year after he'd been forced to come back in and take over the struggling company, which was mired in debt.
Chief Executive Officer Greg Regelbrugge says sales have been growing, but the company couldn't reach an agreement with Vann, who wanted to sell the stores in Missoula, Hamilton and Kalispell.
"Our rent was raised in January and that should have given us an indication. And then we weren't able to come up with a compromise. So the bottom line is we have to be out of all three locations by June 30," he said.
Vann's will close in Hamilton by the end of this month and by the end of May in Missoula. All of the company's business operations will move to Bozeman. Regelbrugge said the timing is very unfortunate as sales, especially in Hamilton, have been on the upswing.
"Well, Hamilton, the team out there has just been fantastic and the community out there has really supported us, but this store feeds Hamilton as far as deliveries and warehouse space. And so without a Missoula space, it's hard to have a Hamilton space. And even if we wanted to, like I say, that all three buildings have been pretty much buy them or move," he said.
Other attempts to find a new location haven't panned out, so the company is forced to close its doors. Just over a dozen employees will be affected and reassignments are being made where possible.
"Basically, try to relocate as many positions as we can to the stores we are keeping open, where we have leases with people other than Pete Vann. And we're going to regroup and hopefully find a space here out on North Reserve, or close to it, that we can come back into the market," said Regelbrugge.
Regelbrugge is still hopeful of making arrangements to keep the Kalispell operation open in a temporary location. The company's ON Store in the Southgate Mall will remain open.