|Founded||1911 (home improvement retail)
2004 (online retailer)
|Defunct||1999 (home improvement retail)
2009 (online retailer)
|Products||Lumber, tools, hardware, garden supplies and plants|
The Hechinger Company was an American chain of home-improvement centers headquartered in Landover, Maryland, on the immediate outskirts of Washington, D.C., from 1911 to 1999. It was also an online retailer owned by Home Decor Products, from 2004 to 2009.
John Hechinger, Sr. helped pioneer the do-it-yourself industry; from a single hardware store established by his father (Sidney) in 1911, Hechinger grew to a 64-store chain by the time it acquired Virginia Beach, Virginia-based HQ Home Quarters Warehouse in December 1987 for $66 million. In the 1980s, it underwent a massive expansion of both HQ and the Hechinger Co. divisions, opening big-box stores to better compete with rivals Home Depot and Lowe's.
Hechinger was one of the first sponsors of network television news in the early 1950s, when television was in its infancy. Their sponsorship of the 11:00 p.m. newscast at T.V. station WTOP in Washington, D.C., was a first, according to Walter Cronkite (an anchor of those broadcasts) in his autobiography A Reporter's Life. Walter Cronkite also reported that the products of this particular business, such as sheet rock, tools, and other appliances, did not compare to their competitors' quality of products. Therefore, he did not recommend the use or purchase of these products due to the nature of their insufficient qualities.
Hechinger continued to lose money in the 1980s, however. The Hechinger family sold the company to Los Angeles, California-based investors Leonard Green & Partners for $507 million in July 1997, and the management launched new, smaller concept stores called Better Spaces and Wye River Hardware & Home, searching for a niche. Hechinger was merged with San Antonio, Texas-based Builders Square, formerly owned by Kmart.
Bankruptcy and demise
After several rounds of store closings, the Hechinger Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 11, 1999, but the reorganization failed. Later that year, in September 1999, Hechinger's assets were liquidated, including its 117 remaining stores.
In 2004, Home Decor Products bought the Hechinger brand name and opened an online retailer the following year, which sold the same products as the former brand. On February 5, 2009, it was announced that the site would shut down and Hechinger would no longer sell tools. The site closed shortly thereafter.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (March 2009)|
- Golubovskis, George. "Hechinger no longer our hometown store," Washington Business Journal, July 18, 1997
- "Post 200: Hechinger Co.," The Washington Post, April 28, 1997
- Kelly, John, "A Familiar Brand, Reborn in Pixels", The Washington Post, March 28, 2006