Sears to close 100 to 120 Kmart, Sears stores

December 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The tough economy is forcing a tough decision by the Sears. The company is closing more than 100 Sears and Kmart stores around the country. And the people who own businesses near those stores are certainly worried.

The Sears Holdings Corporation has not said which of their stores they plan to close, but on their company's website www.searsmedia.com they say in order to raise their bottom line, they need to shut the doors on as many as 120 of their big box stores. That decision has many small neighboring business owners worried about their own financial future.

May Henderson has owned and operated her store, The Hat Library, for seven years. She specializes in women's headgear and fears that closing the Sears department store in Oakland's Uptown neighborhood, would be bad for business.

"Not having other anchor stores in the area, so I believe it would have an adverse effect," said Henderson.

"It's really not enough down here as it is to draw people," said Robert Dragon, owner of Grand Lake Scooters.

Dragon's scooter shop sits in the shadow of the Sears store and is one of just a few businesses still operating on the block. Sears Holdings Corporation plans to close between 100-120 Sears and Kmart stores. They have not said, how many jobs, if any, will be lost.

"If you start taking away things like Sears, I don't know what they would do to replace that," said Dragon.

This is the latest move to fix the retailer that has struggled to hold on to customers finding other ways to buy goods.

"Shopping habits change, so I go where it's convenient and if it's convenient, I'll go there," said Lynn Glick, a Sears shopper.

Patricia Smith is the kind of customer retailers like Sears depend on -- those looking for sales. She says she like to shop for "jackets, outerwear, lingerie and a little bit of everything."

But customers like Smith are not shopping at Sears and Kmart enough. According to a statement on the company's website, revenue at most stores is down by more than 5 percent, and even holiday shopping wasn't enough to save them all.

"A lot of larger stores have gotten away from customer service," said Henderson.

Sears says they will no longer prop up their marginally performing stores in hopes of improving their performance, but instead will concentrate on their cash-generating stores. Some fear what may move-in, if Sears decides to move-out.

"Every time something closes, what opens behind that always does not always seem to be the right thing," said Dragon.

Sears and Kmart combined have more than 4,000 stores in the United States and Canada. At the start of Tuesday's trading, their shares were down 18.9 percent -- their lowest point in more than three years.

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