The impending closure of a women’s clothing retail chain with a location in Dubuque caught many by surprise, including the retailer’s local employees and landlord.

The owner of Dressbarn, a chain that has been around for nearly 60 years, announced this week that it will close all 650 of its stores, including the one at 2485 Northwest Arterial in Asbury Plaza. The move will affect about 6,800 employees.

The majority of Asbury Plaza is owned by Cafaro Co. Company spokesman Joe Bell said Tuesday that landlords throughout the country were caught off guard by the announcement.

“It came as kind of a surprise to a lot of people,” he said, adding that “they didn’t give formal notification to a lot of their landlords on this.”

Julia Gulino, a manager at the Dubuque Dressbarn, said employees there learned about the closure when they received an email from their district leader Monday afternoon.

“We were not expecting it at all,” she said.

Gulino said the Dubuque store has eight employees. She said Tuesday morning that staff members were not aware of when the Dubuque store would close.

Asked about details regarding the move, Dressbarn corporate spokesman Shawn Buchanan directed the Telegraph Herald to a website with few specifics. It states that Dressbarn stores will close “eventually” but currently “are open, and our sales associates are serving customers as usual.”

The clothing chain is owned by Ascena Retail, which also is the parent company of popular brands such as Ann Taylor, Loft, Justice and Lane Bryant. In announcing the closures, Ascena officials said Dressbarn had not been operating at an “acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment” and that the company wanted to focus on its more profitable brands.

“I think Dressbarn was a good fit in Dubuque, but it fell victim to a corporate decision,” Bell said.

He said he believes there will be plenty of interest in the store’s site. However, he said it might take longer to fill the space because Cafaro Co. was caught off guard by the closure and unable to plan ahead.

The upcoming closure of Dressbarn will mark the latest change at Asbury Plaza.

Sears Hometown Store closed its location within that shopping center in late 2018, but a new tenant catering toward younger customers is poised to open in that space soon.

Bell said discount store Five Below should open its doors in “the late summer.”

Five Below offers a different take on the traditional dollar-store concept, offering a variety of items that cost $5 or less.

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