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Sky City was a discount store chain based in Asheville, North Carolina. In the early 1990s, Sky City took a huge plummet when Wal-Mart started moving into the areas of North Carolina where there had previously been no competition except for Rose's Department Store. In 1991 Interco, Inc. sold Sky City Stores, Inc. to a group of investors, headed by Harvey Yellen, Sky City Stores' chief executive officer, for an undisclosed figure. The investment group formed a new company, Sky City Holding Corp.
The new owner, The Sky City Holdings Corp., includes a Hong Kong-based global trading firm called Asia Pacific Industries. Sky City generated sales of $140 million in 1990 - up from $120 million during the previous year - but has been up against intense competition in its Southeast trading area from Wal-Mart, Rose's and other full-line discounters.
The infusion of capital from Asia Pacific Industries and other members of the holding company allowed for five new store openings in 1991 - each conforming to the chain's new, 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) prototype size - plus the development of new corporate offices, a warehouse and a distribution center in its current headquarters city, Asheville, N.C.
Sky City is the first retail operation in which Asia Pacific Industries has invested, although it does have ownership in other non-retail U.S. firms.
John B. Owens, director of stores and operations with Sky City, said the 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) prototype was designed to serve small communities. Stores ranged in size from 51,000 square feet (4,700 m2) to 28,000 square feet (2,600 m2). Also, Owens said the chain planned to increase the percentage of merchandise that is the result of opportunistic buys. Sky City opened its first test prototype in March 1991.
Twenty of the chain's 55 Southeastern stores were being shuttered as part of a restructuring of Sky City operations. Remaining stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia underwent a remodeling and a program to beef up in-store inventory levels.
Stores that closed in 1990 included nine stores in North Carolina, five stores each in Georgia and South Carolina, and one in Tennessee.
Employees at stores that closed were relocated to remaining stores whenever possible, said Yellen, adding that it is possible that some of the closed stores could be reopened at a later date. This never happened. In early 1992 the chain closed for good.