Cape Cod icon will pack up its knickknacks for its main warehouse facility

on the other side of the canal.

Christmas Tree Shops just loves a bargain: That's one reason why the Cape Cod icon is moving its headquarters from leased space in South Yarmouth to a massive warehouse that it already owns in Middleboro.


The discount retailer informed its employees on Tuesday that it will move the corporate offices off Cape Cod to the distribution center the company owns on Leona Drive in the Campanelli Business Park in Middleboro, said Michele Watkins, marketing director for the company.


Executives at the company, which was acquired by Bed Bath & Beyond in 2003, were looking for a new headquarters site as long ago as 2003, when properties in Plymouth and Middleboro were under consideration.


Besides being able to end lease payments, the company also wants to accommodate future expansion plans, Watkins said. The company is constrained in its current 40,000-square-foot location.


But the company's distribution center in Middleboro covers 750,000 square feet. Watkins said the company hasn't decided whether additional administrative offices will be created within the building's existing footprint, or if another expansion will be added.


Watkins declined to say how many people will make the move to Middleboro next summer. The Cape Cod Times reported in 2004 that about 130 people worked at the Yarmouth headquarters at the time.


The Middleboro location is about 50 miles away from the current headquarters.


``We do have associates who are on the Cape, but we also have associates who are off Cape (and) we have associates who are as far away as Rhode Island,'' Watkins said.


Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said she was disappointed by the company's decision. But she is hopeful that the headquarters building won't stay empty for long given the high demand for such space due to stringent limits on new construction on Cape Cod.


``Of course, we hate to see that going over the bridge,'' Northcross said. ``Hopefully, the real estate that's vacant now opens up a new opportunity for Cape Cod.''


Rob DeMarco, a partner at the Campanelli Cos. in Braintree, said his firm developed the Middleboro building for Christmas Tree Shops and sold the property to the company in the mid-1990s. The building has been expanded twice since it opened, and there's still plenty of room on the site: DeMarco said the property spans 88 acres and is permitted for up to 1 million square feet of development.


Founders Doreen and Chuck Bilezikian opened the first Christmas Tree Shops store in Yarmouthport in 1970. The company - which is well known in New England by its slogan, ``Don't you just love a bargain?'' - closed the original shop earlier this year.


Jon Chesto of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) may be reached at jchesto@ledger.com.