Goody's closing will leave 30 jobless

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By April Wright, Reporter

Goody's Family Clothing in Galax was crowded throughout the weekend as shoppers hunted for bargains during the retail store's going-out-of-business sale.

Brandi Cartwright, manager of the Galax store, and Felicia Bowers, assistant manager, said they are still in shock about last week's announcement that the clothing chain planned to close all of its stores, including the one in Galax, which Cartwright said will put 20 to 30 employees out of work in Galax.

“None of us have absorbed the shock of it yet,” said Cartwright, who wasn't up for discussing the grim feelings she and other Goody's workers are dealing with. “When we close, that's when I'll realize that this is real.”

Cartwright has been with Goody's for five years, and Bowers has been there for almost three.

“We're just taking it one day at a time,” said Bowers. “It's hard to find out you're losing your job.”

Bowers said faith will help everyone pull through during this difficult time.

Cartwright and Bowers said all information about the closing date and sales information has remained confidential at the corporate level. Both said no other information, including plans for the workers, has been provided to them since last week's announcement.

Goody's is the first high-profile retailer to go out of business this year and has shoppers in the area concerned that the depressed economy may eliminate other choice shopping destinations in the region.

“I hate that this is happening,” said shopper Jennifer Patton, of Galax, who had her arms crammed with children's clothing as she rummaged the racks of the children's department. “Where are we going to buy clothes in Galax? There's not many stores in the area where you can buy name-brand clothes for your kids.”

When the liquidation sale began last Friday, all the signs above clothing racks read 30 percent off, still leaving prices a bit higher than expected for most customers.

“Prices are not as low as I thought they would be,” said Patton. “But if you don't get the stuff now, it might be gone.”

Since the retailer began its store-wide sale, Patton has been keeping an eye on prices by making a trip every day to Goody's.

She has been a regular at the store since it opened in Galax in 1999.

“I can't believe it,” she said. “I see people shopping here all the time, but I guess you never know what can happen.”

Another customer, Barbara Nester, was shopping at the Galax Goody's for the first time ever on Monday. Although she wasn't a frequent Goody's shopper, she sympathizes with the employees that will soon be out of jobs.

“It's a shame,” said Nester. “It will make it even tougher on the area. We have a long way to go with this slowing economy.”

Goody's is in the process of obtaining bids to liquidate substantially all collateral and inventory.

According to a press release, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based apparel retailer tried to negotiate with suppliers the week of Christmas to avoid liquidation.

Two weeks ago, the retailer stopped issuing new gift cards and discontinued its layaway and tuxedo rental services.

Goody's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2008, reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy in October. In November 2008, Women's Wear Daily reported that the retailer might be headed back to the courthouse for a second tour of bankruptcy — but it might not even try to restructure.

Goody's, founded in 1953 by the Goodfriend family, became a privately held company in 2006. It has annual revenues of $800 million.

According to its Web site, Goody's has more than 10,000 employees and more than 286 stores in 20 states.

The Gazette made several calls to Goody's corporate office, asking for more information on the official closing date, but no calls were returned.