84 Lumber closes store after 32 years

The 84 Lumber store in Goose Creek is one of 20 across the nation the company has closed.

The contracting construction market has squeezed a longtime local building supplier out of business.

84 Lumber in Goose Creek, a fixture at the heavily traveled intersection of U.S. Highways 176 and 52 since 1976, was one of 20 stores across the nation the Pennsylvania-based contract supplier closed late last month because of the downturn in the housing market.

Its 11 employees and building supplies were redeployed to other 84 Lumber stores in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston and Summerville, said Jeff Nobers, company vice president of marketing.

"We don't close stores if they are profitable," Nobers said.

The privately held company supplies building materials to contractors, remodelers and do-it-yourselfers and does not have a lot of walk-in traffic.

"We are not a consumer-focused supplier," Nobers said. "We look at these markets over time and take business from a store that is not doing great and still service that sector."

Nobers attributed the store's demise to the housing market's decline as well as its location.

Many of 84 Lumber's newer stores operate on as much as 20 acres with ample storage space. He said the Goose Creek location was typical of stores built more than 30 years ago that required just a few acres.

The company, based in its namesake Eighty-Four, Pa., where it started in 1956, has closed more than 100 stores during the past three years, Nobers said. It now has 335 stores in 37 states. At its heyday during the housing boom earlier this decade, it operated nearly 500 locations.

In May, the company hailed its first profit of the year after reporting decreased sales since April 2006. Its sales are almost 100 percent dependent on new home starts, the company announced in a July press release. Since it is a private company, its sales figures were not released.

The shrinking company also closed four stores each in Kentucky and Pennsylvania; two each in Atlanta, Alabama and Michigan; and one each in California, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia and New York.