As the merchandise dwindles and display racks continue to empty at the Sears store in Coral Ridge Mall, shoppers like Don Hodson of Coralville said they are sorry to see it close on Sunday.
“It’s too bad to have it closed. It’s been here since the Coral Ridge opened in July 1998,” Hodson said. “You have to change to be competitive.”
Sears Holdings, corporate parent of Sears and Kmart, sold its building at Coral Ridge last year to mall owner General Growth Properties and announced plans to close the store early this year.
Eligible employees will receive severance and all 94 associates will be able apply for positions at other Kmart or Sears stores, according to Howard Riefs, director of corporate public relations for Sears Holdings Corp.
Tom Noble of Des Moines, who was checking out the sale Thursday, traces the decision by Sears to close stores amid declining sales to the company’s purchase by Kmart for $11 billion in November 2004.
“I think it’s a sad thing to see it go because Sears has been around for a long time, but I think when they connected with Kmart that was the beginning of the end,” Noble said.
Facing flagging sales, Sears in March 2012 announced plans to close 34 of its 834 U.S. full-line stores, many of which were located in malls and measure about 134,000 square feet. It also closed 60 Kmart locations, including a store in southwest Cedar Rapids.
Sears continues to operate mainline stores at Lindale Mall in northeast Cedar Rapids, Kennedy Mall in Dubuque and Crossroads Mall in Waterloo. Service for appliances can be requested by calling (800) 424-2047 toll free or going online to www.searshomeservices.com/repair.
The retailer also has Sears Hometown Stores, which are locally owned and operated, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Atlantic, Burlington, Carroll, Centerville, Clarinda, Clinton, Decorah, Estherville, Fort Madison, Grinnell, Keokuk, Le Mars, Marshalltown, Muscatine, Osage, Oskaloosa, Sheldon, Spencer and Storm Lake.
General Growth, which bought 11 Sears stores for $270 million, said it is not ready to announce a new tenant for the soon-to-be-vacant anchor store at Coral Ridge.
“We continue reviewing all our options and at this time do not have any information to share with you,” said David Keating, vice president of corporate communications for Chicago-based General Growth Properties. “We know when the time comes to share news with you, we know our shoppers will be just as excited as we are.”