Nova Scotia

Kent Building Supplies shutting down Guysborough store it bought in January

One local contractor calls the decision "devastating" for his business. Municipal officials said they had little forewarning and are mystified by the move to close the only sizeable building supplies store in the area.

'We had no forewarning of this,' says Warden Vernon Pitts. 'There's no common courtesy exercised by Kent'

Central Supplies was the only major retailer of building supplies in Guysborough County. (Submitted photo)

Municipal officials in Guysborough County say they are at a loss to understand why the only sizeable building supplies store in the area is being shut down, a move they say will hurt contractors just as the local economy is improving.

The Central Supplies outlet in the town of Guysborough is slated for closure Friday when its new owner, J.D. Irving Ltd.-subsidiary Kent Building Supplies, puts a lock on the door.

Kent's regional manager, Mike Simms, declined to comment on why company is shutting the location.

Local contractor Mark Harnish said the closure will be "devastating" for him and he will now have to travel to Antigonish to buy what he needs.

"I have to travel an hour now to get anything when it comes to building materials, or a good selection of hardware," he said.

There is a Home Hardware in the community but it doesn't carry lumber, masonry or heating equipment.

Kent had 'no common courtesy'

Harnish and his father once owned the building that Central Supplies has occupied since 2002. They ran County Building Supplies until Steve Smith, the founder of Central, bought them out in 1999.

Smith, a native of Canso, sold his chain of stores to Kent in January.

"Mr. Smith was fully engaged in the community," said Vernon Pitts, the warden of the Municipality of Guysborough. "We had no forewarning of this. There's no common courtesy exercised by Kent," he added.

Blair George, the municipal councillor for the area, believes Kent made the decision for financial reasons. He said the location was probably making money but did not reach the company's profit-margin goal.

The closure will be a major inconvenience for many people, he said, particularly local contractors who used to be able to pick up supplies at the end of the day to be prepared for the job site the next morning.

There were four full-time jobs at the Guysborough store. Only one of them is being relocated to another Kent location.

Local economy rising

Both George and Pitts said they are mystified Kent would pull out at a time when the county's economy is showing signs of growth.

They point to the possibility of a rocket-launch pad in Canso, talk of mining opportunities and a large quarry in the offing — developments they said could result in billions of dollars for the economy.

They also point to the municipality's Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex, which is under construction and will comprise a soccer field, rink, walking track, offices and a community hall.

Although he's upset that Kent is leaving town, George is optimistic that something positive may result, calling it a "golden opportunity" for Home Hardware should it decide to expand into building supplies and other products.


Hal Higgins

News Editor

Hal Higgins is a reporter and editor at CBC Cape Breton. He has been with the CBC for 36 years, during which he has also been a host of several radio programs.