Orchard Supply Hardware will close all its stores by February 2019. Photo: OSH

The news broke late Tuesday night but became official Wednesday morning: All outlets of Orchard Supply Hardware, including the one in Berkeley, will close by next February.

Marvin Ellison, the CEO of Lowe’s, OSH’s parent company, discussed the decision during an earnings call on Wednesday. He also said that the company would try to place as many of its 4,300 OSH employees as possible into nearby Lowe’s stores. The employees were informed Tuesday of the closure, according to the Mercury News.

“We will be providing outplacement services for impacted associates, and they will be given priority status if they choose to apply for other Lowe’s positions,” Ellison said in a statement.

The move came, Ellison said, because OSH stores were “not running well,” according to the Los Angeles Times. 

OSH was only a tiny part of Lowe’s, and the company wants to get leaner in order to better compete with its biggest rival, Home Depot, according to CNN Money. In 2017, OSH had $600 million in sales, less than 1% of Lowe’s overall sales of $68.6 billion, according to the LA Times.

There are 98 OSH stores and one distribution center in California, Oregon and Florida, with 40 in the Bay Area. The Berkeley store is located at 1025 Ashby Ave., right near San Pablo Avenue. The store was open for business on Wednesday.

OSH was founded in San Jose in 1931 as a farmer’s cooperative. Sears purchased the chain in 1996 and spun it off as an independent entity in 2011, according to the Mercury News. The chain floundered and filed for bankruptcy in 2013. It was taken over by Lowe’s that year.

Ellison just took over as CEO of Lowe’s in July but moved immediately to shake up the company. He reorganized the executive chart within 10 days of his arrival and now has made the big decision to shutter OSH. Ellison previously served as the head of JCPenney and as a top executive at Home Depot.

A spokeswoman for Lowe’s told the Mercury News that store liquidations would start Thursday. An employee who answered the phone at the Berkeley location this morning said she had not been informed of that yet.

Many customers have praised the store on Yelp.

“The staff are way more knowledgeable than the chain hardware stores,” wrote Kyra T. from Berkeley earlier this year. “After a plumber tried to tell us we’d have to spend over $300 to replace a faucet, we went to the store to buy the parts, and one of their employees was so helpful, he pointed out that we should only have to replace the washers, not the whole faucet/handles, etc. So he saved us hundreds of dollars. This kind of knowledge/service is one of the reasons we’ll drive farther to come here.”

“This is hands-down my favorite OSH store — it’s clean, organized and usually it’s not crowded and the check-out lines aren’t bad,” Jenn C. from Oakland wrote today. “Sometimes it can be challenging to track down someone to ask question but it’s not as bad as other places — and they always have great tips and ideas that save me money and help me get the job done!”

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...