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Southgate Marshalls closing

Will stay through holidays; other city locations to remain

A discount retailer that rebranded its Southgate Plaza store less than two years ago is preparing to call it quits at that location.

Marshalls employees are telling customers the store will close early next year even after its parent company, TJX Cos., rebranded the location that was previously an A.J. Wright. TJX Cos. of Framingham, Mass., did away with A.J. Wright in late 2010 but converted nearly 100 locations into T.J. Maxx, Marshalls or HomeGoods stores.

“Our Marshalls store in Fort Wayne is expected to close in mid-January 2013,” said Doreen Thompson, a TJX spokeswoman. “We are always assessing and reviewing our real estate strategies and our decision to close the Fort Wayne store reflects that thinking. We are grateful for the patronage of our Marshalls customers and believe they will continue to find great values at our nearby stores.”

A Marshalls store at Chapel Ridge Shopping Center on Maysville Road and a T.J. Maxx in the Northcrest Shopping Center on Coliseum Boulevard remain in Fort Wayne.

Hopes were high for the 19,463-square-foot Marshalls at 334 E. Pettit Ave., but in the end poor sales likely proved the culprit, store employees said. About 30 to 40 workers may be able to land positions at other TJX stores or receive severance, Thompson said.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Jonathan Ray, president and CEO of the Fort Wayne Urban League. “That is a clothing store, and it fits many of the urban trends that we see taking place. Its closing makes it harder to do business on the south side, but not impossible.”

TJX Cos. pegged the A.J. Wright conversion cost at $12 million to $15 million. The retailer renovated 91 locations and closed 71 others in February 2011.

Marshalls offers discounted brand-name apparel, accessories and home merchandise. The Southgate store opened with a “Shoe MegaShop,” featuring brand-name shoes. The store also had an in-store boutique catering to teens. Marshalls is in a shopping center that includes a Walgreens pharmacy and a Kroger grocery.

There is already talk among workers at Marshalls that another retailer may take over the space. While the area has a Walmart and other local retailers, area boosters often maintain that it is underserved. When TJX Cos. didn’t originally put the south side store on the chopping block, it was touted as proof the area was ripe for other developments.

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