Talk about déjà vu. Last week, I watched as the Kmart sign was removed from its Cookeville store front. This week, crews were busy removing Krispy Kreme’s signage just down the road.
After less than two years since first opening its doors to Cookeville and the Upper Cumberland, the local Krispy Kreme is no more. A canned response, noting the closure was the result of a corporate decision, is all that the employees and customers were reportedly offered after first being greeted by a sign on the door Wednesday morning.
“We closed our Cookeville shop location on February 7. We thank our employees for their hard work and service. We also thank our customers and neighbors for their business.” – Casandra Williams, Krispy Kreme spokesperson
While the closure is a corporate decision, the factors leading to that decision have not been revealed. After multiple attempts to reach out to the company’s media team, I was only provided a simple three-sentence statement.
Unceremoniously dumped in an it’s-not-you-it’s-me scenario, ex-employees are now on the market for a new job. They join employees affected by the closures of Anchor Down Bar and Grille and Jet’s Pizza; all of which shuttered in recent days.
Are these closures (along with those of Kmart and, soon, Sears) a sign of the local economy? Let’s recap. Kmart and Sears are victims of a much larger issue involving their struggling parent company, Sears Holdings Company.
Krispy Kreme, while their specific reasons aren’t clear, have quietly shuttered several locations across the country (yes, with the same sign emblazoned with the prominent misspelling of the word “permanently”) in the past.
Perhaps Krispy Kreme misread the local market and underestimated the local donut scene. Local favorites Ralph’s Donuts and Big O’s each have a loyal following. Dunkin’ Donuts, known for its coffee and sweet treats, also has a strong fanbase.
I recently spoke with Henry Bowman, statistician for the Upper Cumberland Development District, to gain some insight of the impact some of these closures may have locally.
He explained the effect of these recent closures on the local unemployment rate is “marginal”. There are roughly 130 food and drink establishments (this includes bars, restaurants and dessert shops) located in Putnam County. That’s a lot of choices and, ultimately, a lot of competition. According to a frequently cited study by Ohio State University, roughly 80 percent of restaurants fail within five years. It’s a tough business and certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
Having three eateries close within the span of a week is sure to raise eyebrows but is likely more coincidental than anything. It’s unfortunate when a business closes but it’s even more unfortunate when a business closes without taking care of its employees.
With the closure of the Cookeville Krispy Kreme, the nearest location is now more than 30 miles away in Smyrna. But, based on some of the comments I’ve seen on social media in recent days, I don’t expect many local folks will make the trek there any time soon.
Amye is the managing editor for the UCBJ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.