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ODD END FOR 20 STORES OF EXPANSIONARY CHAIN

On the heels of tough year which saw at least $2.5 million in losses and plummeting stock values, executives at close-out retailer Odd's-N-End's Inc. have opted to reverse recent expansion efforts and cut the chain's store count by nearly one-half.

That means the ultimate closeout for 20 Odd's-N-End's stores across New York State, including four area outlets, as the Buffalo-based chain searches for a path back to profitability.

Odd's-N-End's, which has 55 stores, including 17 in the Buffalo area, has made arrangements to liquidate stock and close four here, five in the Rochester area and 11 others sprinkled across the state.

Local Odd's-N-End's stores targeted for closing are:

3044 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, in the T.J. Maxx Plaza.

4220 Delaware Ave., Town of Tonawanda.

2429 Military Road, Niagara Falls.

A warehouse storefront at 3035 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.

The closings will affect more than 120 workers statewide, including 25 local employees.

Odd's-N-End's has sold the contents of the affected stores to Gordon Brothers, a liquidating firm, which has already begun the inventory process.

Odd's-N-End's officials did not return calls regarding the closings.

The dramatic shutdown decision comes in the wake of a March announcement that the firm would get out of the fashion apparel business and would close three to five stores in the next 12 months.

Company president John H. Clark at that time projected a $2.5 million loss for 1993 and said the chain had informed its bank lender that it was unable to repay its $2 million seasonal line of credit as required on Feb. 28.

The year-end losses came despite sales growth from $11.95 million in fiscal 1991 to $32.5 million for the year ending January 31, 1994.

Profits had also grown from $448,000, up to $841,000 in 1993.

Earlier this year, Clark said the company bought too much for its general merchandise lines, and has suffered a big drop in gross profit margin, along with an inventory write-down from the disposal of excess merchandise.

Clark said at that time that he was working on a long-range business plan aimed at returning the firm to profitability. These closings are believed to be key to that effort.

Ironically, Odd's-N-End's was honored this week by the U.S. Small Business Administration for winning the agency's Region 2 Entrepreneurial Success Award.

The firm competed against companies from New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for that award.

Founded 10 years ago, Odd's-N-End's had grown from one store in September of 1983 to 55 as of January, with a work force of 700 employees. Its base remains Western New York, but it grew substantially through an expansion statewide.

The retailer went public in 1992, with its stock trading on the Nasdaq market. The company's stock has plummeted 93.75 percent since its first offering, closing Friday at 28 1/8 cents a share.

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