All Orchard Supply Hardware stores to close, including Berkeley location

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Jinsu Elhance/Staff

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Orchard Supply Hardware, or OSH, will be closing all stores by the end of the year, OSH’s parent company Lowe’s announced earlier this week.

This will include the OSH located at 1025 Ashby Ave. in Downtown Berkeley. Lowe’s is working with Hilco Merchant Resources for the actual liquidation. As of Thursday, almost all merchandise in the store was at least 10 percent off. The store is currently slated to close Nov. 1, though this may change if merchandise is sold off sooner than expected.

OSH was originally founded in 1931 in San Jose by a cooperative of farmers during the Great Depression. Since then, the store has grown from one location to nearly a hundred nationwide, including more than 30 stores in the Bay Area alone. In 1996, Sears bought the OSH chain, which it owned until 2013 when the Lowe’s parent company acquired it through bankruptcy.

Lowe’s spokesperson Jackie Hartzell said lack of profitability was the main reason for the OSH closures, but added that it was a difficult decision.

“We are working hard to make this transition as smooth as possible for our associates and our customers,” Hartzell said in an email. “We will be retaining our associates through the store closure process and are encouraging them to apply for open roles at Lowe’s stores, where they will receive priority status.”

Miles Permillion, a Berkeley native and OSH employee of two years, is one of the associates planning to transfer to Lowe’s.

“I’m actually planning to work at Lowe’s because I like what I do,” Permillion said. “I like working at the hardware store. I just feel like it’s not going to be the same at all. But, they did offer us priority when we go there. So, when we go there, they should hire us, immediately.”

West Oakland resident Julio Chabrier, who has been shopping at the Berkeley location for four years, said he would miss the convenience of the Berkeley OSH.

“It’s not very crowded here, so it’s very convenient to come down here and get some odds and ends stuff,” Chabrier said. “It’s going to be a real thing. The competition is going to be less and I see all the prices in this area going up on these things.”

Longtime OSH customer and fellow Oakland resident Lasca Alekseevna said she was similarly disappointed about OSH’s closure. While she said she occasionally shops at competitors, such as Ace Hardware or The Home Depot, Alekseevna admitted that she will probably end up shopping more online than at a competing chain.

Employees at Looking Glass Photo & Camera, which neighbors the Berkeley OSH location, also expressed disappointment to see OSH go. Tamara Luck, a Looking Glass employee, said that their business is worried about how long OSH’s location will remain vacant, citing concerns about burglaries and negative impacts on Looking Glass.

“By general consensus, we’re sad to see a business get bought up by a large corporation (that decides) that they’re not cost effective to keep open, even though the store here has been thriving,” Luck said.

Contact Alexandra Stassinopoulos at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AE_Stass.