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GRANDPA'S A GONER

Now that the venerable discount store's going out of business, who's looking after its employees?

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One real concern about the sale of the 15 local Grandpa's stores was the fate of its employees, particularly a few of those who are, for lack of a better phrase, mentally handicapped. Owner Tom Holley says the stores made such hires in a "de facto" manner without an official policy with set goals, calling it a practice that was "more philosophic than specific." Overall, Holley says, he doesn't expect people to lose their jobs, because the man who ran the Grandpa's stores for Holley, a "man of great integrity," will operate the region for Value City. Admitting that it's "hard to get people to work at $7-$8 an hour in big numbers," Holley says what made the deal attractive to Value City was Grandpa's "competent and dedicated workforce." Holley has assurances that employees will keep their jobs. He says he had other opportunities to sell to companies that would "close stores and not use people" but that "we didn't get far down that track." Holley says he bailed out on Grandpa's because it was a rarity, a discount chain that wasn't regional. "Any growth was very problematic from a capital and strategic perspective," Holley says, adding it would have been hard to expand to Kansas City or Chicago. The liquidation sale at the 15 local stores should last until the end of the year. So the year that saw the Arena blown up will also see the last Grandpa's shut down. Sic transit Pidgeon's.

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