MIDDLETOWN, R.I. — Benny’s – ‘The Biggest Little Store in the Biggest Little State’ – will close all of its stores, including its Middletown location, by the end of the year, according to a company statement Friday.
Benny’s Inc. will close all 31 stores in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut by December. The closest Benny’s store to Portsmouth is located in Middletown at 1400 West Main Road.
Citing the desire for the Bromberg family ownership to retire from the operation of the retail chain, the company will begin winding down operations at their 31 locations and distribution center effective immediately. The goal is to complete this process by the end of December.
“The decision to cease operations along with the retirements of the current owners was strongly influenced by the changing face of retailing today and the dominance of online retailers like Amazon and others, threatening the ability for Benny’s to remain financially viable in the future,” the company said in a statement.
The company’s 715 employees were notified of the decision Friday. The company employs 386 full-time and 329 part-time workers.
“As proud owners of Benny’s this is an emotional time for us,” said Benny’s President Arnold Bromberg. “Benny’s has been something the Bromberg family has invested enormous amounts of capital, time and energy in for nearly a century in this region. 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.
“Our current ownership is all at the age where we would like to retire from the business and spend more time with our families, and we have collectively judged that the always competitive retail landscape has shifted in a way that makes it almost impossible for small, family-owned chains like ours to reasonably compete moving forward. We’ll miss our employees, who have been such a big part of what has made Benny’s successful for so many decades.”
The future of the company’s land and buildings are still being determined.
Benny’s is – and will likely be for long after its closing – a Rhode Island landmark. The stores sold an assortment of goods from toys and bikes, to housewares and hardware, and electronics and sporting goods, but was known by most for selling and installing tires.
Since 1924, Benny’s has been an institution in communities and neighborhoods across southern New England. What started as a small tire stand in downtown Providence evolved into 32-neighborhood stores.
“We feel that Benny’s has become part of what makes our small corner of the world so special. We’ll miss our loyal customers and our employees – friends and neighbors – generations of whom have shopped our stores for the past 93 years and have referred to Benny’s as ’my favorite store.’
“As we wind down this business we want to do our best to ensure that our mark on local retail history will be as positive and lasting as possible,” Bromberg concluded.