Hyannis store may be victim of corporate retrenchment
Falling consumer demand sends massive retailer reeling
By James Kinsella
What if you built a 23,000-square-foot commercial building and no one came to fill it?
That's the situation that Berkshire Development apparently finds itself in on Route 132 in Hyannis, where Berkshire was building a new store for Circuit City, one of the nation's largest retailers of consumer electronics.
Asked Friday afternoon if the store still would open, Barnstable Building Commissioner Thomas Perry replied, "It's not going to open now... Reading between the lines, I doubt it."
Perry said an electrical subcontractor on the job approached one of his town inspectors and asked how much work needed to be done for a sign-off on his current segment of work.
Once that was in hand, Perry said, the subcontractor plans to ask for a refund on a permit already pulled and paid for regarding electrical fixtures that have yet to be installed.
Perry said he has not heard directly from Circuit City about their intentions for the store.
On Monday, Circuit City Stores Inc., which is based in Richmond, Va., issued a news release that contained an update on the corporation's plans to restructure itself and increase its liquidity, that is, readily available funds.
The corporation said it planned to close 155 stores and reduce future store openings, although the release didn't specifically address the planned Hyannis store.
In the release, Circuit City said its deteriorating liquidity position and the continued weak overall economy is leading it to take certain restructuring actions, such as the store closings, immediately.
Over the past several weeks, Circuit City said, a number of factors have hurt the company's liquidity, including waning consumer confidence and a significantly weaker retail environment.
The company said that the decline in consumer confidence and demand has hit the company's sales and gross profit margins harder than its managers previously anticipated.
Berkshire built the new store for Circuit City on the north side of Route 132 just up from the Airport Rotary on the former site of Rogers & Gray Insurance and of Star City, a restaurant that previously housed a locally owned establishment called Starbuck's.
Although the new building may remain an empty shell in the near future, Perry said funding is secure for the undevelopment of the former Chili's property just down the road at the Airport Rotary.
As a condition of allowing the Circuit City construction to go forward, the town secured $800,000 toward reworking the Chili's parcel. The restaurant building that housed Chili's, and formerly was the Red Coach Grille, recently was demolished.
Read the prior story in the Robbins Report about Circuit City's troubles here.