With the new housing construction business in a slump so deep it makes the Cleveland Browns look like winners in comparison, it's a bad time to make a living selling housing materials.
Just ask the folks at 84 Lumber. The chain shut down its local store on Monday.
The store, located at 6409 Milan Road, south of Bogart Road, employed four people.
Company spokesman Jeff Nobers said the company always tries to transfer employees to another location when it's forced to close a store.
Nobers explained 95 percent of the business for his company's chain of stores comes from the new construction market.
"The events in the housing industry in the last few years has been especially difficult for acompany like ours," he said.
The company, which now has 329 outlets, shut down 70 stores during 2008, he said.
During 2004, 2005 and 2006, the U.S. had about 2.3 million housing starts a year, Nobers said. That's down to about 600,000 now, he said.
"It's the lowest housing start level since 1959," he said.
While for many people the recession only hit recently, businesses such as 84 Lumber have been in a recession for four years, Nobers said.
The glut of unsold new houses and houses that have been foreclosed upon or are awaiting foreclosure makes it unlikely the new housing market will pick up before at least late 2009 or early 2010, Nobers said.
Nobers said the company owned its Erie County location and will put the site up for sale.
The company ought to be ableto sell the site, said John Hoty,president of Hoty Enterprises, which owns many properties along U.S. 250.
"I think it's an attractive location," he said.
Hoty said U.S. 250 south of Ohio 2 is a limited access highway. Because the 84 Lumber site has access to the highway, it has value, he said.
"For a business that wants to be accessible to Route 2, but doesn't have to be in the thick of things, it's a good location," Hoty said.
"It's sad to see them go," Hoty said. "We use them not all of the time, but often."