September 17. 2015 9:42PM

Bedford Macy's expected to close earlier than planned

Union Leader Correspondent

The Macy's in Bedford will be demolished in 2016 to make room for an upscale lifestyle center. (CASSIDY SWANSON/Correspondent)

BEDFORD — Despite earlier indications that the department store would stay open through the holiday season, the Bedford Macy’s will be closing sooner than planned — possibly by the end of October.

On Thursday, signs were posted throughout the store announcing that it would soon be closing, and all merchandise was marked 30 to 50 percent off as liquidation begins. A notice on the front door stated that as of Tuesday, the store was no longer taking returns, making price adjustments or exchanging merchandise on purchases made online or at other stores.

Men were also seen standing at various locations along South River Road, holding up signs advertising the going-out-of-business sale.

Employees inside the store declined to be quoted by the New Hampshire Union Leader, but said they had been told the store would close by the end of October, and that the company was working to place employees who wished to continue working for Macy’s at other New Hampshire stores.

Last month, Colliers International sent out a news release stating that the South River Road store had been sold for $12 million to Dallas-based Encore Enterprises, Inc. The property is set to become an “upscale lifestyle center.”

Encore Enterprises has hired PCA Architects of Boston to assist in the redesign of the 16-plus acre property, which is adjacent to the Goffe Mill Plaza project on the site of the former Wayfarer Inn and Conference Center. That plaza will be anchored by the state’s second Whole Foods Market.

Bob Rohrer, managing director of Colliers’ New Hampshire office, said a “lifestyle center” is “a new type of mall.”

“It’s more conducive to kind of walking around than an indoor mall or just a straight strip mall,” Rohrer said in August. “It’s a different approach to combining mixed uses — retail, hospitality, offices. Sometimes multi-family (housing), but we won’t be doing that.”

While the original plan was for Macy’s to stay open through the end of the year, followed by demolition on the site starting in spring 2016, Rohrer said on Thursday those plans had changed.

“Macy’s told us they were still planning to remain open through December, but the sale is going far better than they expected,” he said. “I could speculate and say that at the rate things are going, store inventory does not seem like it will last to December. But they have the building through the end of the year.”

Originally a Jordan Marsh location, a department store has been on the site for 50 years.

Judy Davis of Weare was shopping at Macy’s on Thursday. She said she was “very disappointed” that the store would be closing soon, and had been shopping at the department store since it was Jordan Marsh.

“It’s always been a much more comforting, warm place to come (than the Manchester location),” Davis said, adding that she does about 80 percent of her shopping there and has come to know many of the store’s staff over the years — some who had told her previously that they were told the store was set to close in mid-November.

“Some of them don’t know where they’re going ... or if they’re even going (to another store), or if they can go, if it’s too far for them to travel,” she said.

Davis said she has noticed the store fall into disrepair in recent years, and believes the necessary repairs weren’t made because the changing of hands was underway.

“They got too much money for this 16 acres that they got,” she said.