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Dollar Express shuttering Gary stores

Downtown Gary is pictured above. Dollar Express is closing both its stores in the Region.

An upstart dollar store chain is going under after just 18 months, putting 38 people in Indiana out of work.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Dollar Express plans to close all 330 stores in 36 states, including two in Gary. The chain said in a WARN notice to the state of Indiana's Department of Workforce Development that it would shutter its stores at 4157 Cleveland St. and 2535 Garfield St. in Gary this summer, laying off 18 workers.

"Dollar Express has made the difficult decision to liquidate and close all of its stores on approximately June 30, 2017," Dollar Express Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Legal Officer Dean Williamson said in the letter. "We presently expect that employee separations will take place on or around June 30, 2017."

Dollar Express also expects to close two stories in Indianapolis, and one in Fort Wayne, laying off another 20 workers.

Dollar store sales soared during the Great Recession, taking away market share from traditional discount retailers like Walmart, but the Dollar Express chain faced stiff competition from more established competitors like Family Dollar, Dollar Tree and Dollar General.

Retailers have been closing left and right in 2017, in what some have dubbed the "retail apocalypse." HHGregg, Payless, Dollar Express, MC Sports, Family Christian, Gordmans, The Limited, Wet Seal, Kmart, Sears Appliance and Hardware Store, Carson's Clearance Center and Gander Mountain are among the many stores to close all or some locations in Northwest Indiana and the south suburbs so far this year.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.