JR Cigar to close Statesville store

STATESVILLE, NC (Deon Roberts/The Charlotte Observer) - JR Cigar plans to close its Statesville store and lay off employees who work there, bringing an end to a landmark shopping destination along Interstate 77.

The closure of the store, at 1515 E. Broad St., will affect 77 workers, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN notice, filed Monday. Companies must file the notices when they make mass layoffs and close plants.

The store's closure comes as the owners of Newtowne Plaza shopping center said they have decided not to renew the store's lease because they plan to redevelop the center's site.

An official with Whippany, N.J.-based JR Cigar could not be reached for comment.

The store will close Dec. 31, according to the notice. Layoffs could begin that day or Jan. 1 and be completed by Jan. 15. A range of positions will be affected, including cashiers, tobacconists, associates and houskeeping staff, among others.

Bob Collier, a real-estate developer and former Superior Court judge whose family owns Newtowne Plaza shopping center, said JR Cigar's lease will expire at the end of the year. The lease will not be extended, allowing the shopping center to be redeveloped, he said.

The shopping center, which was built in the 1960s, is dated, he said. The site will be expanded but remain a shopping center, he said. He said it's too early to discuss specifics.

"We bought the vacant land behind it (the shopping center) and we're going to do an extensive redevelopment of that center," he said.

According to JR Cigar's website, the Statesville store is one of three discount outlets in North Carolina. In addition to a cigar store, the outlets sell a wide range of other products, including clothing, fragrances, beauty products, bedding, toys and books.

Last month, the Statesville Record & Landmark newspaper, citing a company representative, reported that JR Cigar will resume operations at a new location in Mooresville in early 2015.

Only the cigar portion of the store will reopen at the Mooresville location, the paper reported.