Metro-East News

Sears to close Fairview Heights location

Can retail be rescued? Why so many U.S. stores are closing

Stores that have been staples of the American shopping tradition for decades are closing in large numbers. Take a closer look at the reasons why it’s so hard for retailers to stay open.
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Stores that have been staples of the American shopping tradition for decades are closing in large numbers. Take a closer look at the reasons why it’s so hard for retailers to stay open.

The Sears at St. Clair Square is set to close in March, the store’s parent company confirmed Friday.

In the spring, Sears Holdings plans to close 80 additional Sears and Kmart locations around the country including its Fairview Heights store, which opened in April 1975.

Liquidation sales are scheduled to begin in two weeks, the company said. As part of the closings, the accompanying Sears Auto Centers at the Sears stores slated for closure will also shut down in January.

According to CNBC, the department store operator told employees Thursday that it plans to shut another round of Kmart and Sears stores next year, in addition to those that are already in the process of going dark.

Sears filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 15, and has previously announced more than 180 store closures.

Paul Ellis, the Fairview Heights Economic Development director, said Sears is one of the largest contributors of sales tax to the city. However, he could not provide specific figures.

The city, which has a large retail base, does not levy a property tax.

Fairview Heights Mayor Mark Kupsky said the city has been working on possible plans for the large retail space just in case a store closure became a reality.

“It doesn’t come as a shock because Sears has been going through some difficult times over the last several years,” Kupsky said. “I certainly feel sorry for those employees who will be affected. We have been working with the mall management on an alternate plan should Sears close.”

Kupsky, however, said he could not publicly discuss specific details of the plans.

“We have been working on replacement plans should that store been on the list, which it now sounds like it is,” Kupsky said. “This will enable us to move forward with plans for redevelopment of that location.”

He said Sears, which has a long history in Illinois, holds the lease on the property and the city has to wait to see what the plans are for the real estate.

However, city officials remained optimistic going forward.

“The mall is healthy, things are going well, and we look forward to continuing with some new development,” Kupsky said.

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referendums.

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