Devastated Budget DIY staff in Londonderry closed the doors on their workplace for the last time today and braced themselves for a tough Christmas.
Around 30 people were made redundant today, most of them with children and mortgages, many who have worked in the store for more than a decade.
They will now have to apply through administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers for their redundancy pay, which is unlikely to arrive before the end of January.
Six Budget DIY stores are expected to close across Northern Ireland, with the loss of almost 200 jobs.
The chain faces grievous financial problems and it emerged on Tuesday that some employees were paid by cheque last week - before the administrators were appointed - only to find their pay cheques bounced this week.
PwC's joint administrator Garth Calow said everybody would get paid.
"But Budget DIY has substantial creditors and little cash," he added.
Assistant manager of Budget DIY in Derry, Mickey McCallion, has worked in the store for 12 years.
He described the mood among workers as they swept floors and emptied shelves this morning as "devastated".
"We are all gutted to be honest with you. We're just putting the last of the customers out now. There's nothing left.
"We were hoping against hope up until last Friday when our best chance of a prospective buyer pulled out.
"We've been kept in the dark about everything, treated like dirt really. Not even the store manager knew what was going on. You just get a feeling though from the way things progress.
"Our spending bill was reduced from between £40,000 and £50,000 a week to £10,000 a week. If you haven't got it, you can't sell it, so customers were just dropping away.
"At one time we had around 50 people working here but when things started to go downhill, people started leaving and they weren't replaced."