Southpark Mall Sears to close as parent company’s struggles continue

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Nov. 14, 2017 | 7:25 p.m. 

PRINCE GEORGE – It is hard to turn on the news on a given day without hearing about the struggles of a slew of high-profile retail names and, late last week, another well-known business announced it plans to close more stores, including one in the middle of the Tri-Cities and Southern Virginia.

This month, Sears Holdings, which operates Sears and Kmart stores, announced that it is closing another 63 stores as they try to find their footing following years of declining sales in the face of a changing retail landscape.

Among those stores closing, Sears Holdings confirmed that the anchor store at Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights is among the over five dozen stores that will be marking the 2017 holiday shopping season as their last.

According to a memo on the company’s website, “Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size.”

That memo went on to say, “In the process, as previously announced we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.”

Sears Holdings noted that the 63 stores closing, made up of 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears locations, will be closing by late January.

This wave of closures has been part of a massive restructuring effort by Sears Holdings in the years following its acquisition of Kmart during the 2000s.

With traditional retail disruptors like online titan Amazon and reduced foot traffic inside their stores, Sears Holdings was forced to realign, seeing store closures as a needed step in that realignment process.

In 2015, Kmart, a longtime tenant of Colonial Heights’ Southgate Square shopping center, closed its doors during the first quarter of the year. That store was later demolished to make way for a Burlington Coat Factory and space for additional retail growth in the Southpark Mall business corridor.

Sears Holdings also closed a Kmart store along Jefferson Davis Highway and a host of other locations, with customers showing up in droves to take advantage of liquidations before those stores ultimately closed.

In regards to liquidations, officials with Sears Holdings said those sales “will begin as early as November 9” at the impacted stores, Colonial Heights included.

In total, five stores, four Kmarts, including a Richmond location along Nine Mile Road, and the Southpark Mall Sears store, are closing in the Commonwealth by the end of January.

According to published reports, auto centers at the affected stores will cease operations in December.

This isn’t the first business closure to change the landscape of shopping in and around the Colonial Heights and Southpark Mall area.

During 2015, along with the Kmart closure, longtime electronic retailer Radioshack shuttered their two locations in the area in the Dimmock Square shopping center and inside Southpark Mall, only feet from the Sears store that is now facing the same fate.

This year, electronics and appliance retailer hhgregg worked to avoid declaring bankruptcy but was unable to, forcing the company to close a large number of stores, including their store along Southpark Boulevard, which was the former home of another shuttered business, Virginia-based Circuit City, which closed its doors during the 2000s.

According to company officials, “Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores.”

A check of Kmart’s store locator system shows only two Kmart stores within 50 miles of their former home in Colonial Heights, with one being the soon-to-close location in Richmond and a second store located in Williamsburg.

In regards to Sears stores, they list three locations within 50 miles including the closing Colonial Heights store, one in Richmond at Chesterfield Towne Center and one in Glen Allen at Virginia Center Commons mall.

Officials with Sears Holdings did not say how many employees would be impacted by this latest wave of closures.

Copyright 2017 by Womack Publishing
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