The New Year brings many South Georgia business closings - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The New Year brings many South Georgia business closings

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The New Year has brought "for sale" signs in front of several South Georgia businesses.

At least three longtime family-owned businesses in Albany and Lee County are shutting down and selling their buildings.

Financial experts say it's common for business owners to choose the start of a new year to close their doors.

For the family business leaders, it's tough to close down something that has often been part of their lives for decades. But financial experts say one business closing shop is often the opportunity that another person takes to start another.

A "for sale" sign is standing in front of the P&P Garden and Hardware Center on North Slappey. Since 1977 Walter Phelps and his family ran the small business. Walter was shot there during a robbery July 3rd 2010, and died two months later. His son has put the family business up for sale.

 P& P owner Marc Phelps said "It was a hard decision. With Dad passing away that was probably 90 percent of it. Of course the economy was the other ten percent."

Southern Home Furnishings is having their business liquidation sale now, getting rid of their inventory, with plans to close the doors in the coming months. Founder Charlie Rouse built and opened the store in 2006, before dying in 2008. The family is closing this location,but will keep their Albany furniture store open.

The Hinman family started their pool business in South Georgia in 1951, but have closed their Lee County location, and the for sale sign is out front. Business experts say January is the usual time of year for small businesses to reassess.

Lee County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Winston Oxford said "In their operations. The investment of their money or their time. Is it worth it? For the return on investment of the money and their time to even buy a simple business license for another year."

Phelps said he was surprised to see so many other South Georgia businesses joining them, closing their doors.

Phelps said "I know there are a lot of businesses here in Albany that are closing down. And a lot of them are older, more established businesses."

But Oxford said often these closings open the door for new businesses.

Oxford said "That's where opportunities arise for small start up entrepreneurs. Is they can get into these existing facilities for just a few dollars a square foot per year, rather that building a new facility that could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The New Year signaling the end of an era for many South Georgia family businesses.

Phelps said they are still undecided if they will open their doors again for a liquidation sale, or auction off their remaining inventory. A sign in front of the Hinman pool business says one member of the family will open a new supply location in Albany later this month.

Albany city leaders sent out a media statement today reminding businesses their occupational tax certificate payments are due by January 31st.

Those taxes and license fees why many businesses shut down in the new year.

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