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Benny’s closing all 31 locations by end of 2017

Benny’s, a local family-owned business, will be closing its doors at the end of 2017 after 93 years in business. (WJAR)

Benny’s, a well-known family-owned business in Southern New England, will be closing its doors at the end of 2017 after 93 years in business.

Arnold Bromberg, who is the company’s president, made the announcement Friday afternoon.

“The way the numbers added up and the way the future looked to us, the decision was unavoidable,” Bromberg said during a press conference.

“As proud owners of Benny’s, this is an emotional time for us,” he went on to note in a press release. “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.”

Bromberg cited retirement and changing retail habits, as the reason for the closure.

“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,” he said, adding that the closure will affect the company’s 715 employees, including 386 who are full-time and 329 who are part-time staff members. “We’ll miss our employees, who have been such a big part of what has made Benny’s successful for so many decades. So many of them are well-known to our customers and are literally part of the Benny’s DNA.”

Benny’s has locations in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Southeastern Massachusetts. The company noted that it will begin winding down operations at all 31 locations and distribution center effective immediately, with a goal to complete the process by the end of the year.

“The disposition of the company’s real estate holdings -- Benny’s owns the land and structures for nearly all of the store locations throughout the region -- is still being determined,” according to the release, with Bromberg adding that “The company has been fielding offers on those real estate holdings and any relevant developments will be announced at the appropriate time.”

Many customers are less than thrilled that the store, which sells everything from tires, Drano, paint, antifreeze, bikes, deer repellant, to a whole bunch of stuff you never knew you needed, will be shutting its doors for good.

“It's very upsetting,” Dawn Carpenter, a shopper, said. “As soon as I learned on the news today, I'm like, ‘We have to go to Benny's. We have to go see if there's anything we need before they close.’”

Southern New Enganders have been shopping for generations ever since Bromberg’s grandfather opened it in 1924.

“You can find anything here,” Sylvia Faella, another customer, said. “And the thing is, the people that work here, the sales staff, marvelous.”

Longtime customers Steve and Gail Hogan were perusing the aisles, picking up odds and ends, like so many others have over the years.

“It's always on our list for no matter what we need,” Steve said, while Gail added, “I was sad. I was really sad. We have bought all our nieces and nephews, practically all their bikes here. We buy many things here. We shop here often. And it's too bad.”

(NBC 10's Brian Crandall contributed to this report.)

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