Iconic Rhode Island retailer Benny’s Inc. will close its doors for good by the end of this year after nearly a century selling Southern New Englanders everything from car parts to shovels, Eyewitness News has learned.Benny’s President Arnold Bromberg and his siblings, the third generation of their family to run the chain, came to the decision to shut the company down over recent months as they discussed their desire to retire.
The news was being announced to employees Friday afternoon. Gov. Gina Raimondo was informed earlier in the day.
“We take great pride in what our retail stores have meant to our employees and many loyal customers for so long. But it is simply time,” Bromberg said in a statement. Changes in the retail industry have made it “nearly impossible for small, family-owned chains like ours to reasonably compete moving forward,” he said.
The 31 Benny’s stores in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut will all cease operations by the end of December, putting the company’s 715 employees out of work; slightly more than half are full-time. Benny’s owns most of its stores’ land and buildings, and Bromberg said they are fielding offers for the real estate, “with an eye toward future use.” –WPRI
To quote a wise man: “It feels like somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears… and at the same time, somebody else is hitting my soul in the crotch with a frozen sledgehammer… and then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone”. That wise man was Michael Scott, and he sums up my feelings perfectly when it comes to Benny’s officially closing up shop. For those of you that don’t know, Benny’s is a Rhode Island institution that has been around since the early 1920s. It’s a retail store where you can literally get anything, from bicycles to grills to stereos to fertilizer to car parts and everything in between. It was a treasure trove of cheap stuff that I’ve filled my house with over the years, most of which I didn’t really need, but when you see an American flag pole for $12, you buy it. Now that Benny’s is closing, I’ll be forced to give the Target’s and Walmart’s of the world my business, but I won’t be happy doing it. Nothing can replace Benny’s. Nothing. Hit the music.