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84 Lumber Asks for State Financing

Seeing what Pennsylvania did for Boscov's, another retailer in the state, 84 Lumber, is looking for some assistance as well.

84 Lumber Co. has talked with the state's Department of Community and Economic Development, as the company looks for assistance with debt financing after its sales fell by $1 billion last year, a state spokesman said Monday.

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Last week, 84 Lumber said its 2008 sales had fallen about 32 percent, to $2.1 billion from $3.1 billion in 2007. The 2007 sales total was down 20.5 percent from $3.9 billion in sales recorded in both 2006 and 2005.

Since early 2007, 84 Lumber has closed at least 78 stores nationwide, and laid off 113 employee at its headquarters in Eighty Four. It has shuttered seven components plants. Total stores today stand at 319 versus 450 in 2006, while the number of components plants totals six, down from 13 in April. The employee is 4,900, down from 9,500 in 2007, according to ProSales magazine.

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Talking to the state about possible financial assistance isn't a new idea, particularly given the recession. In November, Gov. Ed Rendell announced a plan in which the state secured a $35 million loan to help Reading-based department store chain Boscov's Inc. as it exited bankruptcy protection.

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