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Two local businesses to close their doors

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By Larry Rowell

Two Campbellsville businesses, Friedman's Jewelers and Dawahares, will soon close their doors in Green River Plaza.

Lexington-based clothing retailer Dawahares will close by the end of July, Dawahare's President Harding Dawahare said. Friedman's will close by June 21, according to store manager Allen McKibben.

Dawahare said the family-owned firm filed for bankruptcy protection May 30 and plans to close nine of its 31 stores. About 100 employees of 500 will lose their jobs.

The Campbellsville Dawahares' closing will affect between 10 and 12 employees.

Pay scales are such that it wouldn't be practical for the workers to take jobs in the company's stores in other communities, Dawahare said. However, workers who stay until the closing in July will receive a bonus, Dawahare said.

Although the retailer first thought Campbellsville would be one of its better markets, company officials were perplexed as to why the store didn't make it.

"We put our best foot forward by having a good staff and great merchandise," Dawahare said. "We just didn't do the volume to sustain profitability in Campbellsville."

Ron McMahan, executive director of Team Taylor County, said he too was puzzled by the list of Dawahares stores that were closing. He said it was probably due to the general downturn in the economy.

However, McMahan says that even with these two closings, new businesses continue to open in Campbellsville. He cited the recent opening of the Baskins-Robbins store and new downtown investments such as Cafe Bonin.

Friedman's Jewelers will close 477 stores in 19 states, McKibben said. He said the remaining three employees in the Campbellsville store will lose their jobs.

Greensburg native McKibben, married and a father of five children, said he has 30 years' experience in the retail sector and will probably look for work in either South Carolina or Arkansas.

He said the company is "not offering enough of a severance package to call it a severance package."

Joshua Wheatley, a senior at Campbellsville University, has worked at Friedman's for about a year.

In addition to an hourly salary, Wheatley said he received a commission of 1 percent on sales. The company offered an increase of one-half percent if he stayed until the store closed.

"It's a bummer; it happens," he said. "You can whine all you want, but it won't change a thing."

- Larry Rowell is a Kentucky Press Association summer intern. Contact him at cknj@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.