Chicago’s Last Sears to Close Permanently Sunday

The final Sears in Chicago city limits is closing. Known as the Six Corners store, it opened in the Irving Park neighborhood 80 years ago, during the Great Depression. On the first day, 100,000 shoppers stormed through the doors.

A real estate firm has plans to turn it into a mixed development of stores and apartments.

The closing of the Six Corners store is another sign of the financial problems facing what was once an iconic retailer. Sears has lost $11.2 billion since 2010, its last profitable year. Sales have plunged 60% in that time.

Sears Holdings (SHLD), which operates both the Kmart and Sears brands, had a total of 3,500 US stores when it merged the two brands in 2005. Now it has fewer than 1,000.

Merchants nearby said they’re concerned about losing a longtime anchor of the neighborhood, even if they don’t get much business from Sears customers anymore.

“Do we like empty stores? Absolutely not. But it wasn’t a great draw,” said Rich Buckwalter, 62, the owner of Rasenick’s, a store down the block that sells work boots and work clothes.

“If this closing had happened 25 years ago, I’m sure the owner here at the time would have been much more concerned.”

Buckwalter said he’s gone over to Sears a few times since the closing was announced in April. But he said it’s probably been 10 or 15 years since he bought anything there himself.

“We used to buy tools and batteries and auto parts there. But there’s no reason to go in there any longer. They’ve been doing the same thing for the last 50 years, and that doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “It’s not good, especially for the employees. That’s who I worry about.”

The store had 113 employees when Sears announced plans to close it.

Sears declined comment beyond confirming that the store will close Sunday.

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Source: CNN