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Housing starts continue to slide

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Statistics released today by the U.S. Commerce Department showed that total housing starts dropped 6.2 percent in August, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 895,000, compared to 954,000 in July.

Total housing starts in August of 2007 were 1.33 million units.

Single-family housing starts last month were reported at 630,000 annual units, a 1.9 decrease below July’s rate of 642,000. The August rate for multi-family housing starts was 251,000, a 16.6 percent decline from multi-family starts of 301,000 in July 2008.

Multi-family housing starts in August 2007 were 332,000 annual units on a seasonally adjusted basis. In year-over-year comparisons, multi-family housing starts dipped 24.4 percent.

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Alameda merchants fight against new Orchard Supply

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The approval for a new Orchard Supply Hardware in Alameda, Calif., is being appealed and will go before the Alameda City Council on Sept. 16, according to a report in the Alameda Journal.

The Planning Board gave approval in July for the Orchard Supply to be established at Alameda Towne Centre in a former Safeway, with the size of the building being increased by 1,500 square feet to 38,730 square feet. Also in the plans is an outdoor garden center on the north side of the building, as well as a 35-foot front parapet, new landscaping, benches and bicycle racks.

The appeal — filed on behalf of two local hardware stores, two nurseries and a private citizen — claims that the Orchard Supply would undercut local hardware stores and cause increased traffic and pollution.

“It directly impacts the local economy and shifts tax dollars from local merchants to Orchard Supply,” said Phillip Jaber, owner of Encinal Hardware, one of the appellants. “I think we would be more apt to compete with a Home Depot. Orchard is treading right on our playing field, taking our gravy items away — those widgets you sell once or twice a year that help you stay connected to the owners of older homes in town.”

The push to open the new Orchard Supply comes from Harsch Investment Properties, which owns Alameda Towne Centre and wants to increase the number of anchor businesses there. Among the anchor businesses already open are Trader Joe’s and Borders book store.

Orchard Supply Hardware, which is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., has 86 hardware and garden retail stores throughout California.

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Hardwarehouse stores to close

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Hardwarehouse, a pair of Ace Hardware stores in Cayce and Lexington, S.C., will close their doors on Oct. 10 after 25 years, according to The State, a Columbia, S.C.-based publication.

Hardwarehouse is known in Lexington County for its large outdoor departments that cater to hunters and fishermen. However, a slumping economy and competition from large retailers forced owner Dan Rhoads to close the businesses, The State reported.

Rhoads closed the stores for five days in early September to mark down prices and invited loyal customers to a private sale on Sept. 10. On Sept. 12, the sale expanded to the general public, and it will continue until the stores close, Rhoads said.

The two stores employ 42 people, The State reported.

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