In November 1998, Ames acquired Hills. At that time Hills was operating 155 stores, covering 12 states, and employing in excess of 20,000 employees, and its Headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts. This acquisition increased Ames’ store count by 50%, thus going from 301 to 456 stores and became the nation 4th largest discount chain behind Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target.  It was the nation’s largest regional full-line discount retailer with annual sales of over $4 billion.

The year-long transition of Hills’ 155 stores into the Ames organization ended the chain’s 41 years as an independent business. By the beginning of 2000, the Hills name disappeared completely from every remaining storefront in the nation, joining other former notables as Korvettes, Venture and Jamesway.

Ames announced in mid-January 2000 the closing of Hills’ regional office in Aliquipa, PA., along with two Pittsburgh-area stores.  Hills’ corporate headquarters in Canton, Mass. was already operating with a skeleton crew of about 250 people, down from 700 in headier days.

Hills’ most recent president, Chaim Edelstein, was gone, as was a large contingent of merchants.  Ames president Joe Ettore said that Ames planned to keep most of Hills’ store-level associates and as many of the headquarters and regional office staff as possible.

The store transition occurred in three waves, beginning with 52 stores in the Pittsburgh and Northeastern Ohio region.  The second phase, 50 stores in eastern New York, central and eastern Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland, began after that and re-opened in July. The final phase, the conversion of 53 stores in central and western Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Illinois and Indiana, was completed in October.

After consistently poor financial results and steadily closing stores from March 1999 to June 2002, Ames announced on 8/14/02 that the discount retail chain would liquidate and close its remaining 327 store locations.  Many of the buildings still remain unoccupied to this day.