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As a pair of prominent businesses say goodbye to the Lompoc market, a national retailer is preparing to move into one of the soon-to-be vacated storefronts.

Texas Cattle Company, a restaurant formerly at 936 North H St., shut its doors late last month and retailer Pier 1 Imports, located in the Lompoc Shopping Center in the 700 block of North H St., is in the process of closing its Lompoc store by next month.

The Pier 1 location, however, won’t be empty for long.

Brixmor Property Group, which manages the 179,500-square-foot Lompoc Shopping Center, has confirmed that Harbor Freight Tools, a chain with more than 600 stores in 47 states, will soon be taking over the space currently occupied by Pier 1.

“We certainly don’t like to see businesses close,” Teresa Gallavan, the city’s economic development director, said Friday. “It’s disappointing that it has a negative impact on jobs in our community, but we are happy to see that there is a new tenant coming into that (Pier 1) space.”

Harbor Freight Tools, which is headquartered in Calabasas, is a privately held discount tool and equipment retailer. The business will occupy a 15,971-square-foot space in Lompoc.

Pier 1, a Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer with more than 1,000 stores, opened its doors in Lompoc in 2006. The store offers home furnishings and other houseware items that typically aren’t found elsewhere.

Longtime Lompoc resident Ramona Casarez was among the shoppers browsing the clearance racks at the store on Friday.

“I’m sad that we’re losing another retail store,” Casarez said. “We don’t have much to choose from. I would love to shop in Lompoc, and I do whenever I can, but when you lose your stores, you are forced to go outside of town to shop and that saddens me.”

Melissa Simon, a media relations specialist with Pier 1 Imports, said the Lompoc store will close its doors in February, but she did not specify a date. She said the closure is related only to the Lompoc store.

“Pier 1 Imports continually reviews new and existing store locations to make sure we’re operating as efficiently as possible,” she said. “Where necessary, based on that review, we make the strategic business decision to close certain locations on a case-by-case basis.”

Texas Cattle Company had been operating in Lompoc since May 1985. Victor and Lupe Vega, who had owned the business for the past 13 years, made the decision to close it down late last year. The restaurant’s last day of operation was Dec. 23.

“The economic environment has changed a lot, there’s a lot of competition out there, and I think the timing is just right where my wife, who was primarily running the restaurant, wanted to make a change,” said Victor Vega, who is also a Lompoc city councilman.

Vega said that he and his wife looked at selling the restaurant, but they determined that it would be more practical to just close down.

“The city is doing things that I think will make things better in the future, but at this time it’s really tough,” he said.

Making things better, he said, begins with building the local job base. That will lead to bringing in more amenities and recreation opportunities and keeping money in town.

He said that the customers are what he and his wife will miss most.

“Our clients were very close to everyone there and we will absolutely miss them, and my wife said the same thing,” he said.

Gallavan said she is hopeful the restaurant building won't sit empty for long.

“That’s a prime location,” she said. “I’d like to see something come in there soon.”

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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Reporter

Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base, for Lee Central Coast News. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.