Rue 21 closing in MC

Falling sales are responsible for the closing of the Rue 21 clothing store at 506 S. Haynes Ave. in Miles City, according to acting store manager Gerald Mace. The last day of business will be Saturday.

“Business is down,” he said.

Mace went to work at the store in August. “I should have seen the writing on the wall in the first couple of weeks working here,” he said, explaining that there was minimal customer traffic.

He said every place he has worked recently has been hit hard from the oil fields shutting down.

Mace said business is down by about 40 percent this quarter compared to the same quarter last year, and Black Friday sales were off 97 percent from last year.

When the store opened in the fall of 2013, a company representative said it was planning to have eight employees. They now have five.

Rue 21 currently has 1,224 stores in the U.S. and nine in Montana, according to the company’s website. The Miles City store is the smallest Rue 21 store in the region.

Mace said a Rue 21 store in Helena is also closing.

As for the local store, Mace said it is difficult to achieve high sales when the busiest time is noon to 1:30 p.m. and the rest of the day there’s hardly any customers.

“The local population [would] rather shop at the Rue 21 store in Billings,” he said.

He said it is common for local shoppers to come in, look around, find what they want, then say they’ll go to Billings to make their purchase. 

Mace did say that Billngs has more of the larger sizes and a bigger selection.

He said the hardest thing about closing will be not being there for the shoppers from Glendive, Broadus, Baker and other smaller communities that depend on the store. 

“Those are the ones most saddened by the store closing,” he said.

After the store closes there will be about two more weeks of work for him and one other employee, packing up the remaining merchandise and shipping it to other stores. Then he and his girlfriend are thinking of moving to Fargo, North Dakota.

“They don’t like to pay much here,” he said of the wages.

Rue 21 rented the store from developer Roger Lothspeich. The building is 4,500 square feet in size.