Orchard Supply Hardware Closing All Stores, Including 7 in South Florida

Orchard Supply Hardware stores in South Florida and beyond will shut down permanently by the end of the year, according to a company spokeswoman.

Jackie Hartzell, a spokeswoman for parent company Lowe's, said employees were informed of the permanent shutdown Tuesday, and store liquidations will begin Thursday.

A total of seven stores in South Florida will close, along with two in Napes and two in Orlando.

Rumors began circulating Tuesday about a possible permanent shutdown of the chain's 99 stores across California, Oregon and Florida.

Hartzell said she couldn't comment about employees' severances, but several workers told NBC Bay Area they would be able to stay on until the stores close. At that time, they'll have first priority to be hired at Lowe's stores, they said.

"While it was a necessary business decision to exit Orchard Supply Hardware, decisions that impact our people are never easy. We will be providing outplacement services for impacted associates, and they will be given priority status if they choose to apply for other Lowe's positions," Lowe's president and CEO Marvin Ellison said in a statement.

OSH was founded in San Jose in 1931 and bought by Lowe's in 2013. It has about 4,000 employees across the company.

After Lowe's bought the chain in 2013, the company began renovating its vintage stores to a more modern format, according to the company website. As recently as Tuesday, stores had banner signs posted that read: "Hiring Happy People."

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