‘Merita’ stores shutting down in wake of Hostess liquidation

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- More than 18,000 Hostess employees nationwide will likely lose their jobs as a result of the company filing for liquidation.

617 North Carolina employees will be affected, according to WARN Notices on the N.C. Department of Commerce website. The majority of the workers, 286, are in Nash County, where the Hostess bakery plant operated.

In the Piedmont, there are 25 employees at Guilford County Hostess outlet stores, four in Forsyth County, 13 in Alamance County and eight in Randolph County.

Hostess also employed 12 people in Davidson County, 10 in Rockingham County, 12 in Yadkin County and four in Surry County.

Merita Outlet Stores sell bread and treats manufactured by Hostess at discounted prices.

Iconic pantry treats like Twinkies, Ho Ho's, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread have been guilty pleasures in pantries across America for decades.

FOX8 received reports Friday of stores in the Piedmont already selling out of the treats, especially the traditional Twinkie.

Greensboro's Merita on Randleman Road is still open, but people who work and shop there were certain the "Open" sign would not be up much longer.

Customer Tiara Talford said she was upset after talking to the clerk inside the store.

"I asked her if they were closing. And she said, 'Yeah, 19,000 people are losing their jobs.' And she's one of them. I really feel for her. Right here at Christmas and Thanksgiving? I just really feel for her,” Talford said.

Talford said she bought the rest of the 250 hotdog buns at the store for her Dad's catering business.

"They're feeding a lot of the population around here," she said, referring to the discounted prices. "But since they're closing, I'm not sure what is going to happen now."

Hostess brand stores will stay open for several days until they run out of inventory.

Gail King-Austin said she was shocked when she realized the Merita stores were part of the Hostess brands affected by the bankruptcy and liquidation.

"Being that the economy is what it is, it's more economical to buy from here instead of some of the grocery stores," she said.

"This is awful, just awful," added John Robbins, another Merita customer.

Robbins says he shops on a tight bread budget and keeps cheaper loaves in his freezer to save money.

"They're good, healthy bread for a very reasonable price. I live on a pension. I need to watch the pennies."

This is all following a strike of union members last week. Hostess warned they would have to file for liquidation if the company couldn't settle a contract deal by 5 p.m. Thursday; the deadline passed with no agreement.

Cathy England was in and out of the store in a few seconds because they were already sold out of the cinnamon buns she was looking for.

"I just feel so bad for them," she said of the employees. "So bad. It's just so hard to make it now."

There is still a little hope. Some Hostess products might stay on the market.

CEO Greg Rayburn said he is hoping to find a buyer to pick up at least 30 hostess brands. He said there's been some interest in Dolly Madison and Nature's Pride, but so far no news about the future of Twinkie.

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