Bunnings' Napier branch will close July 4, with the loss of 23 jobs.
An employee of the Australian Household hardware chain, who asked to remain anonymous, said staff at the Pandora Rd outlet were taking it hard.
"Poor us, we are all out there looking for work," the employee said.
Staff were told the closure was not business related.
"As far as we know the lease will lapse, so therefore Big Save Furniture is going to move into the store.
"They say they will build another one, maybe, but there is not enough work in the Hastings branch for us - it is fully staffed."
First Union organiser Mike McNab said some of the workers could be transferred to other Bunnings stores if they chose to leave Hawke's Bay.
Because of Hawke's Bay's seasonal employment environment the timing was a tough blow.
"Because it's the middle of winter it is not a good thing for their families - it will really affect their lives," he said.
Bunnings had expressed interest on a site at a proposed retail centre on Napier's Prebensen Drive, developer Terry Elmsly said.
The centre will be one of the biggest in the central North Island, but just when resource consent will be approved "is in the hands of Napier City Council".
Mr Elmsly is developing the site so he can grow his car dealership and negotiated with Napier City Council to lease vacant government land.
Bunnings has had difficulty finding a suitable site for a large store in Hawke's Bay - the current site is small by the company's standards.
In 2011, the Environment Court turned down its appeal for a 10,263sq m store on land it bought on the corner of Pakowhai and Evenden Rds, because it was zoned for food production.
In 2004, Bunnings had an option to purchase the current Mitre 10 Mega site in Prebensen Drive but let the option lapse while waiting on ratification from its Australian head office, allowing the Hawke's Bay-based Ricketts family to secure the property.
Bunnings marketing manager Valerie Staley said staff had been aware of the planned closure.
"The current store was always a temporary solution to the longer-term goal of opening a Bunnings Warehouse in the area," she said. "By the sheer nature of its size the store has been constrained and only able to provide a snapshot of the product offer more immediately available in a larger Bunnings Warehouse.
"We can confirm that we are absolutely committed to opening a Bunnings Warehouse in the area and will continue to look for a suitable site."