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Springs store to close

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By Johnathan Ryan

After many years of offering first- and second-rate bed and bath linens for Springs employees and the general public, the Springs-Wamsutta store on S.C. 9 will soon close.

Springs Global Senior Vice President of Human Resources Roland Myers said Monday that the reason is the massive reduction of the company's manufacturing operations in the United States. With virtually no domestic manufacturing, there aren't enough products to ship to the store.

Springs Global will close all of its 37 direct retail stores in the country, he said. The stores will be closed by Jan. 31, with 290 associates losing their jobs.

Twenty-two people will be out of work when the Lancaster store closes, Myers said.

The Lancaster store is now offering extra discounts on merchandise, which includes bed and bath linens and accessories.

Brennie Brakefield, a Fort Lawn resident and Springs retiree, was in the store on Monday, looking for a comforter set. She remembers shopping at the store when it was located on West Meeting Street in Lancaster in the 1950s and 1960s.

It moved to its current location in 1982.

Brakefield, who worked for Springs for 45 years, enjoyed the store's selection and using her employee discount card for buying products she took pride in. Brakefield helped make some of the store's merchandise, such as its pillow cases, while sewing at the Grace plant for many years.

"I would get home and look to see if my identification number was on it," she said, laughing.

Harriett Myers, whose husband retired from Springs, said she will miss the store. She bought most of her bed and bath linens there for many years.

The employee/retiree discount card entitled holders to get 20 percent off second-quality products and 40 percent off first-quality products.

Like Brakefield, Harriett Myers also shopped at the West Meeting Street store. She said it's hard to believe that Lancaster County will soon be without a Springs store.

"I always thought they would keep this here," she said.

But then again, Myers said it seems like everything Springs in Lancaster County is closing nowadays.

The former Springs Industries was once the dominant employer in this region of South Carolina, but that number has dwindled drastically in the past decade.

Springs employed 23,200 worldwide, with 17,000 here in South Carolina, at the peak of its employment.

But since 2001, the company has cut 14,000 of the manufacturing jobs in the Carolinas and transferred the work to new production facilities in South America.

In 2006, Springs Industries merged with Brazilian-based Coteminas.

Earlier this year, the company announced it was ceasing manufacturing of textiles in South Carolina.

And in July, the once-private company became an internationally owned company, going public in Brazil, as the Close family, direct descendants of Springs founders Samuel Elliott White and Leroy Springs, sold nearly 75 percent of its nearly 20 percent ownership in the company on the exchange.

Contact Johnathan Ryan

at 416-8416

or jryan@thelancasternews.com