AUTHOR: SINGER

GATTAS TO CLOSE CATALOG SHOWROOM

By Stephen Singer

Daily Journal

Fred P. Gattas Co. Inc. will close its catalog showroom at the West Main Street Shopping Plaza in Tupelo next month.

"It's one of those things. Everyone has moved out to the mall," John Tucker, executive vice president of operations, said, referring to the Mall at Barnes Crossing. "Business has not been what we would have liked it to be in the last few years."

Gattas has been in Tupelo for 10 years, Tucker said. The company also has stores in Greenville, Memphis and Jonesboro, Ark.

The West Main Street store employs 25 workers. The company would not likely relocate any of the employees or managers to the other stores, Tucker said. "We will be working with them. We'll do everything we can."

Business has been falling off over the last several years. "We were hoping for a nice upturn" that did not materialize, Tucker said.

Company officials decided to close as the deadline approached to renew the store's five-year lease, which is due to expire in May or June, Tucker said.

The 30,000-square-foot showroom is the largest store at the West Main Street Shopping Plaza.

Employees were gathered in small groups last Monday and told the news, said Jaime Hansbro, 19, a cashier and saleswoman.

Hansbro of Tupelo said she has worked at Gattas for about 10 months. She has started searching the classified advertisements for a new job, but is not optimistic.

"I've heard now is not the best time of year (for job-hunting)," she said.

"I love it here. I love the environment. Everybody is friendly," Hansbro said.

A customer also was saddened at the news. "It's a great store. It's a real shame," said Faye Edwards of Rolling Fork in Issaquena County. Edwards, who was visiting Gattas Saturday morning, said she shops often at Gattas showrooms in Greenville and Memphis, and shops at the West Main Street store for her mother, a Tupelo resident.

Company officials have not set a date for the closing, but it likely will be in three or four weeks, Tucker said.

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