April 02, 2014LANCASTER — Paul Theroux will sell the inventory in his 4,000-square-foot retail store, the Kilkenny Building Center, on Middle Street by the end of April and then shut its doors.
Theroux has owned and operated the Kilkenny Building Center since 2002 when he, his late wife Terrill-Ann, and their two children, Christopher, now of Montpelier, Vt., and Rebecca moved to town from Waterford, Conn. His 63-year-old wife died on Dec. 23, 2013, of complications of Lyme disease.
Theroux explained in a Wednesday evening phone interview that he likely should have closed the store a year ago, but that it just hadn't been possible.
"There've been practically no 'stick' houses built in the last three years," he said.
The local economy began spiraling downward after Wausau Paper closed in the waning days of 2007, the year after Groveton Paper Board closed, Theroux explained.
"I did $1 million in sales five years ago and by 2012 that number had fallen to $400,000," he said. "Few contractors are still operating locally, and our lumber and materials business fell sharply.
"I used to sell 500 eight-foot-long 2 x 4 studs a month and that fell to 50 a month.
"I used to sell 2 to 3 pallets, each holding 40 80-lb. bags of cement, and that dropped to half-a-pallet a month.
"Our True Value paint business has remained strong, but a lot of customers are inclined to believe all those TV and radio ads that say the big box stores, like Home Depot and Lowe's, really are cheaper. It's been frustrating," he said.
"I'll be speaking to the banks; the business is an LLC, so it will fall on me," Theroux said. "I want to sell as much of the goods on hand as possible so I can pay as many bills as possible.
"Main Street is showing signs of life, but we need to have stores open on the ground floor and occupied apartments above them to keep downtown's vitality," Theroux pointed out, adding that having the Rialto movie theatre open and drawing customers is a plus.
At one time he had five employees but now only Linda Coates, who has worked at the store for 27 years, remains on payroll.
Theroux said he hopes to find work over the summer to keep himself busy and then figure out what to do next. He's grateful to be covered by Medicare, since he's never before had health insurance coverage, and, he added, at age 66 he now qualifies for Social Security.
His wife, he explained, only had health insurance coverage after she qualified for Social Security disability coverage.
Sadly, Theroux summed up the situation, "It is what it is."