Town meets with owners of Greenberg's
BENNINGTON - There may not be much town officials can do about Greenberg's Lumber Yard closing, but they say they are remaining active in keeping the property viable.
Greenberg's announced Wednesday that it would not be open after Sept. 1 and right now is having a sale in an effort to clear its inventory.
Greenberg's Lumber Yard was known for many years as H. Greenberg and Son. The hardware store was bought last year by Leader Home Centers, which has a number of other locations including one in Brattleboro. David Greenberg, who manages real estate for the Greenberg T rust, said Leader Home Centers does not own the real estate portion of the business and had a year to decide whether to buy it or not. They chose not to for unknown reasons.
On Friday, Economic and Community Development Director, Michael Harrington, said he and Planning Director Dan Monks, along with Town Manager Stuart Hurd, met with Geoff Harris, general manager for Leader Home Centers.
"The conversation wasn't very long," Harrington said. "It was mainly to get a situation update and a timeline from them."
He said Harris would not speak about the specific reasons for the closure.
Attempts to reach Harris have not been successful.
"It provided the town with an opportunity to ask some critical questions," said Harrington, mainly if there was anything the town could have done to keep the business in Bennington.
"The answer was, 'no,'" said Harrington. "The decision was not based on anything to do with the town or the community."
There are 27 employees at Greenberg's Harrington said, and that according to Leader Home Centers there will be efforts to find those people jobs in the company's other stores.
Harrington said there are a number of things the town can do, or help with, to keep the 321 Main Street property active depending on what private entities want to do.
The town has a small business revolving loan fund, and a tax stabilization program. It also has connections with the state should the employees want to form a co-op and negotiate to buy the business.
Select Board member Jim Carroll raised the later idea and expressed it through Facebook, saying he would speak with state officials about the possibility.
"It has to be a cooperative effort," said Harrington. "The town cannot negotiate on behalf of the Greenbergs, nor does it want to."
He said the town will continue to play an active role in the matter and will find out what the Greenberg family and L eader Home Center's expectations are, and work from there.
H. Greenberg and Son opened on Main Street in 1949. The late Norman Greenberg built it up over the years. It was briefly managed by his son, Steven Greenberg, who negotiated the sale to Leader Home Centers. His other son, David Greenberg, said the rest of the family did not take career paths that let them run a hardware store full time, but they are disappointed the store will be closing.
The family owns land adjacent to the hardware store, including the sizable Putnam Hotel building. David Greenberg said the family will have to consider how best to go about managing them.
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