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Local Goody's closing

COVINGTON - Goody's in Newton Plaza is closing, leaving Covington shoppers with no department stores and scant choices for retail clothing.

Goody's Family Clothing announced plans to liquidate its remaining 287 stores, including 40 in Georgia, earlier this month. The move came less than four months after the 59-year-old privately held retailer emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

When asked for a closing date, a local Goody's store manager said, "I have no idea," but added that clearance sales are under way.

A corporate spokesman could not be reached for comment. The Associated Press reported the liquidation is expected to be completed by the end of March.

Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce President John Boothby acknowledged the closing leaves a big void in Covington, which already suffers from a lack of retail options.

"I think it's important to note this isn't a Newton County issue, this isn't a city of Covington issue. The entire Goody's chain is closing down," Boothby said. "We're not likely to see any new retailers in this market, and they're not going in many other places, either. It has to do with things outside of our control."

Goody's is among the year's first victims of the worsening economy.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in June, saying at the time the move would help it address "pressures from tightening credit markets, strain on merchandise flow and a sizable but isolated number of under-performing stores in the chain."

As part of its reorganization plan, the company closed and liquidated dozens of under-performing stores, shuttered distribution centers and a corporate office in New York and also cut operating and corporate costs and ended it's e-commerce business.

But that proved to be inadequate, and the retailer has now sought bankruptcy protection for a second time.

Executives with the company are speaking with competitors about purchasing some of the chain's stores, the Associated Press reported. It's uncertain what will happen to the company's 9,800 employees after the liquidation, but without a last-minute buyer or investor to purchase high-performing stores, their job outlook is grim.

Goody's is the second Covington store to go out of business this year.

Covington Cooks, a specialty food and gourmet cookware store, will also close at the end of January after two years in downtown Covington, owners Wendy Harrington and Robyn Bowen recently announced.

Meanwhile, Boothby said the Chamber will continue to work to attract retail to Covington, but added that prospects are few in this economy.

"Right now, the biggest challenge staring the U.S. economy in the eye is contraction ... Now's not the time to speak realistically and longingly about store openings. Now's the time to concentrate on keeping what we've got. If we don't have any more store closings in 2009, I'll consider it a victory," Boothby said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.