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NEWS

JUNE 28, 2013

LB’s Orchard Supply Hardware Banks continued from page 1 in Bixby Knolls slated for closure interview that criminal charges

Sean Belk/Signal Tribune

Orchard Supply Hardware located at 4480 Atlantic Ave. in the Bixby Knolls Shopping Center is expected to close in the next three months after being a fixture in the community for 14 years. Sean Belk Staff Writer

Orchard Supply Hardware, also known as OSH, announced last week that its Long Beach location at 4480 Atlantic Ave. in Bixby Knolls will shutter in the next three months in a first wave of store closures as part of a major business restructure in a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The June 19 announcement came as a surprise to many longtime employees and customers of the hardware store, which has been a main tenant of the Bixby Knolls Shopping Center for 14 years. The news also came as yet another blow to the community after a Ralphs grocery store, located not too far away on Long Beach Boulevard, closed just a few days prior without explanation. OSH, which has 91 locations in California, entered into an agreement for the nearly 80-year, San Jose-based company to be acquired by Lowe’s, while remaining a “separate, standalone business.” Lowe’s, however, has only agreed to purchase 60 stores. So far, OSH is closing an “initial” eight store locations, including Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Citrus Heights, Fairfield, Lone Tree, Midtown, Newark and Vacaville. “We are still reviewing store performance and cannot say with certainty which other stores may close or when,” reads a statement on OSH’s website. The remaining stores are expected to maintain the OSH brand name and sign in front, with employees continuing to wear the company’s signature green shirts, according to a statement from OSH President and CEO Mark Baker. The company, however, plans to roll out new “neighborhood format stores” to better serve customers, he added. “In short, we’ll be the same Orchard, but we’ll be in a much stronger financial position,” Baker said. Still, the decision to close the Long Beach location has stunned some nearby residents and even city officials, who have since taken to social media to express their concerns. Eighth District Long Beach City Councilmember Al Austin, who had met with Ralphs representatives before it closed, said via Facebook that the announcement of OSH’s closing is “disappointing,” adding that the company’s main office should hear from “loyal LB customers.” “This is disappointing news,” he stated. “The neighborhood OSH has been my hardware store of choice for several years. Yet another challenge and opportunity.” Former 8th District Councilmember Rae Gabelich also commented on Facebook, stating that it’s “another corporate decision that will leave a hole in Bixby Knolls.” The departure of OSH also adds to the vacancies at the Bixby Knolls Shopping Center, which is owned by Glendale-based Gaska Corporation. Gabelich commented that the

property owner has been slow in “bringing the entire property up to today’s standards,” referring to a retail strip in a back portion of the center. The property owner had once received $3 million in redevelopment funding for upgrades but the section remains undeveloped with several vacant storefronts. There is also an empty retail space between OSH and Marshalls. Phone calls to Gaska representatives by the Signal Tribune seeking comment were not returned before press time. Cindy Lippert, who took over as store manager two years ago and lives in California Heights, said she couldn’t comment on the reason for the closure but did say it would be a “huge loss to the community,” adding that the location remains the only conveniently located hardware store for nearby residents. “We have a very loyal customer base,” she said. Lippert added that there have been “challenges” but the store was “heading in the right direction.” OSH has also had a strong relationship with the City as a partner with the Long Beach Water Department by providing discounts to residents enrolled in the City’s lawn-to-garden program, added Lippert, who herself has transformed her yard to California native plants. Some shoppers there this week said they were shocked that the store is closing. “I had no idea,” said California Heights resident Monica Contreras, 33, who said she hadn’t been a frequent customer there. “Maybe I should have started shopping here.” Other customers said they prefer the store to home-improvement-supply giants Home Depot and Lowe’s. Fred Johnson, who lives in Compton, said he plans to start looking online for other locations while stocking up on plant food for palm trees before the store closes. He said OSH is the only place in the local area he’s found that carries the right plants and products. “This store is the closest one for me, and I’ve been coming here for years,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what the reason is, but I know they have it here. This store right here is pretty valuable. I’d hate to see it go.” OSH spokesperson Leigh Parrish said via email that the store closures are to be completed in the next 90 days, although “that timing could shift.” She added that Orchard’s decisions regarding closures are based on “historical store performance and the company’s assessment of how individual stores may contribute to its repositioning strategy moving forward.” Company officials said current employees will be able to interview for openings at other stores during the repositioning process. MORE INFORMATION orchardrestructuring.com

against Gibson for making the false accusations against both the LBUSD and Banks would be up to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office and Long Beach prosecutors to pursue. “The answer is this– yes, it can be criminally prosecuted, but it’s entirely in the discretion of the district attorney’s office,” McCune said. “We have made our entire file available and accessible to them, but we have not yet received word that they will in fact proceed with criminal prosecution. We believe that this woman should be penalized to the fullest extent [of] the law. We would love it to be pursued, but it’s their call.” Though Gibson’s whereabouts are unknown and she has not been present in any court hearings during LBUSD’s case against her, the ruling allows LBUSD to recoup

the judgment amount from her future wages and property. Still, it remains unclear exactly how the money will be recovered. Several news reports claim that neighbors of Gibson have said she and her mother went on a spending spree with the settlement money, buying expensive cars and big-screen TVs, adding that many items have since been repossessed. McCune said it’s “presently unknown if the district will recover on the judgment,” but he added that the court order is valid for 10 years and renewable for another 10 years. “In the meantime, this egregious and fraudulent behavior against Mr. Banks and the district should be made clear,” he said. Banks, 27, has since told news

SIGNAL TRIBUNE

Wanetta Gibson

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organizations that he wants to focus on his professional football career. He was signed to the Atlanta Falcons in April and is training as a linebacker for the upcoming NFL season. Banks is now a spokesperson for the California Innocence Project, a law-school clinical program at California Western School of Law dedicated to releasing wrongfully convicted inmates. ß

EYE ON CRIME Crimes reported by SHPD • Citywide

Thursday, June 20 Carrying concealed dirk or dagger 8:52pm– 1300 block E. 23rd St.

Identity theft 1:40pm– 2400 block Cherry Ave.

Residential burglary of apartment or condo 8:54– 1800 block Temple Ave.

Friday, June 21 Recovered stolen vehicle 6:59am– 2300 block Lemon Ave.

Tuesday, June 25 Residential burglary 6pm– 1400 block E. Willow St. Auto burglary 6:30pm– 2500 block Temple Ave.

Commercial burglary 9:52am– 900 block E. 33rd St.

Wednesday, June 26 Non-injury hit-and-run 10:13pm– 3300 block California Ave.

Saturday, June 22 DUI 12:58am– Cherry Ave./E. 27th St.

Non-injury hit-and-run 1:53pm– Stanley Ave./ E. Hill St.

Crimes reported by LBPD Council Districts 6, 7 & 8

DUI 9:25pm– Junipero Ave./E. 28th St. Suspect in custody

Thursday, June 20 Robbery of person 12:01am– Tehachapi Dr./Gardenia Ave.

Sunday, June 23 DUI 3:17am– 1800 block Junipero Ave.

Monday, June 24 DUI 2:03am– E. Pacific Coast Hwy./Gardenia Ave.

Making or possessing fictitious check, bill or note 9:42am– 2700 block E. Willow St.

Friday, June 21 Robbery of person 12:22am– 100 W. Pacific Coast Hwy.

Residential burglary 12:33am– 900 block E. San Antonio Dr.

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St3504 june 28 layout 1  

Signal Tribune June 28, 2013

St3504 june 28 layout 1  

Signal Tribune June 28, 2013

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