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End of an era: Victoria's Lack's store to close Sunday

By ALLISON MILES
Jan. 13, 2011 at 5:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 12, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.

Shoppers browse the selection at Lack's  where everything is part of the store closing sale. Items were marked down as much as 90 percent.

Lack's Stores, Inc. - a timeline:

1938: Dave Lack opens first store in Beeville with one employee

1941: Second store opens in Victoria

1947: Third store opens in Wharton

1970s: Auto parts phased out

1989: Janey Lack becomes vice president of marketing and advertising

2007: Lack's named Retailer of the Year by National Home Furnishings Association

2008: Hosts ribbon cutting for 308,000-square-foot distribution center in Schertz

Nov. 15, 2010: Company announces plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and close its 36 retail locations

Jan. 16, 2011: Victoria retail sites close.

Source: Lack's Stores, Inc., Advocate archives

The atmosphere inside Lack's Furniture Center was quiet, but busy as the store ticked down its final days in business.

Tables slated for delivery huddled near the door, while employees moved heavy furniture through the ever-emptying showroom.

Customers inspected yellow price tags advertising deep discounts.

Sales end Sunday and doors close for good on Monday.

The days leading to the end are bittersweet, said Ruben Velasquez, the store's manager. Although it's sad to see the business close, the hard work wore on employees.

"We're tired," he said, explaining closure has meant heavy lifting and moving furniture as the staff adjusted the sales floor daily. "At this point, it's like, 'Let's just get this over with.'"

On Nov. 15, Victoria-based Lack's Stores, Inc. announced plans to file for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and close its 36 retail locations. The company attributed its troubles to lending issues.

Lack's has been in business 73 years.

The Lack's Clearance Center closes the same day Victoria's other store closes, Velasquez said, but other locations across the state wrapped up earlier this month. Alice's store closed Wednesday, Corpus Christi's store closed Thursday and others in Port Lavaca and Beeville closed within the last two weeks.

Most customers are compassionate when talking with the staff, Velasquez said.

"They'll ask where we're going after we close and some have even worked with our employees to find them jobs," he said. "Of course, there's always that 5 or 10 percent that isn't nice about it."

Others, such as the owners of Ramsey's Restaurant, purchased furniture and, later, brought in lunch for the staff.

Yoakum resident Gustavo Arredondo didn't have any specific purchases in mind, but visited the store Wednesday to check out the prices.

He said he and his family have shopped at Lack's for years and was sad to see it close.

"We've always bought our furniture here," he said, examining a nearby lamp.

Linda Kickendahl, a self-proclaimed bargain hunter from Schroeder, also visited the store to check out the deals. On Wednesday, items were marked between 70 percent and 90 percent off.

Kickendahl, who said she shopped at the store sporadically through the years, bought a coffee table Wednesday.

"You hate to see anything close," she said. "Victoria needs to be getting new businesses, not losing them."

While Velasquez said he doesn't look forward to the change - as of now, he isn't quite sure what his next step will be - he said he and his employees have made the best of it. He allowed them flexible hours if they obtained job interviews and tried to keep his workers joking and laughing, despite the iffy circumstances.

"You've got to laugh," he said. "It helps."

Attempts to contact the company's owners were unsuccessful. A representative with the Lack's corporate office said they were not granting interviews regarding the closing.

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