With the recession still battering the housing and home improvement industry, Home Depot is shutting down its smaller high-end brands.
There are 13 Design Centers in California now closing, four of them will be closed in the Bay Area; a Home Depot Design Center in Concord and three EXPO Design Centers in San Jose, Dublin and Emeryville. Five Yardbirds hardware stores will be closing within the next two months - in Petaluma, San Rafael, San Pablo, Concord, and Alamo.
In total, 41 stories will be closed nationwide and 7,000 people will be without a job. California was hit the hardest.
This is not about a store closing -- it's about Rubina Hovsepian losing her job.
"Why do I have to lose my job, I work so hard for this country and I should be by myself? I'm a single person, how I can survive?" said Hovsepian.
Nancy Wehrman is asking those same rhetorical questions. After six and a half years at Home EXPO, she too is among 7,000 people getting pink slips.
"A lot of people I work with, we sort of feel like a family, so it's going to be hard," said Wehrman.
The high end design centers first opened in 1991. Even during the building boom, the concept underperformed and 20 EXPO Centers closed in 2005.
The remaining 34 will now liquidate all merchandise.
"It's a business we've been looking at for a while coupled with the decrease in demand for high end luxurious projects and the decision was one we needed to make," said Home Depot spokesperson Sarah Molinari.
In a recession, need trumps emotion. Laid off employees will have first dibs on any job openings at parent company Home Depot. There are 2,200 of the core orange box stores and no planned closures.
Even customers who will miss Home EXPO products say they are most concerned about the workers.
"They're just another victim of the housing crisis I'm afraid," said EXPO customer Dennis Jenks.
"We felt really bad. That's a lot of people to lose their jobs," said EXPO customer Sally Jenks.
From the Home EXPO parking lot in San Jose, you can see the fate of Circuit City, and hear the collective pain.
"I'm so sorry, I'm not sorry for myself. I'm sorry for millions of people without a job," said Hovsepian.
Home Depots will offer two months of pay to Home EXPO employees from their last day of work. They will be also giving some health benefits.
The liquidation sales start right away and Gordon Brothers, the same people in charge of Mervyn's and Circuit City will be moving the merchandise.