Last Benny's store closes Monday

The Benny's store in Greenville closed Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Robert Emerson)

The last store in the Benny's chain closed Monday, ending a 93-year run for the venerable retailer.

The store in Greenville was open until 5 p.m. All remaining merchandise was 70 percent off, with customers buying ice scrapers for only 15 cents.

It was an emotional day for many shoppers.

"Every Saturday, we jumped in my father's truck when we were kids. We grew up here," said Janice Oliver, who used Benny's as the backdrop for her Christmas Cards this year.

The nostalgia spanned generations.

"My Grandfather used to bring me all the time, and now that one of our local stores are closing it's a Rhode Island special I needed that memory to live on," said 18-year-old Sean McCarthy, who bought his eighth Benny's section sign.

Others stopped in even if they really didn't need anything.

"I had to come right from work. I had to say goodbye," Brenda Martin said. "This was my favorite out of all of them. My nephew said, 'Auntie Brenda, I'm going to take my bike to Dr. Benny's.'"

The chain's owners announced in September they were closing all 31 stores in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. They cited the changing retail landscape and the desire to retire.

"We've worked hard all of us, all of our employees worked very hard for a long time, and it's time," said Benny's co-owner, Arnold Bromberg.

Some of those employees worked there a long time, including manager Tom Faiola, who's been with the company 42 years, as well as Joan Williams, who rang up the first sale at the Greenville store and was there to see the last.

The Greenville store will open with abbreviated hours every now and then or by appointment to sell off store fixtures and equipment.

Carpionato Group is buying most of the buildings and says it will convert them for other retail uses.

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