Sears at Independence Center is closing, the company has announced.
A liquidation sale is to begin next week, and the auto service center closes by the end of this month. The store is expected to close in October. The Sears auto center will close in late August.
The holding company of Sears and Kmart made the announcement late Tuesday. Sears and Kmart have had several rounds of store closings for years, closing hundreds of stores, but Tuesday’s cuts – 21 Sears stores, five Kmart stores – were the first in 2019.
The company says employees will be offered severance.
Sears has been an anchor store at Independence Center since the mall opened 45 years ago this fall.
The cuts affect what Sears calls its large-format stores. They do not appear to affect its outlet stores such as the one on Front Street in the East Bottoms or its Hometown stores such as the one in Lee’s Summit. Those are the kinds of stores where Sears says it’s putting its focus.
Realene Trumm, the mall’s general manager, had not returned a message Wednesday morning seeking comment about the impending closure.
Tom Lesnak, president of the Independence EDC and Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday’s announcement was “just a matter of time” in coming.
“The company, it seems, is basically on borrowed time at this point,” he said. “That’s just kind of the situation we’re in with retail right now, with online sales. Retail stores are kind of changing their model, becoming more of a showcase.”
Los Angeles-based International Growth Properties purchased the mall earlier this year from its bank holders for a reported $57 million. Lesnak has said it’s a promising ownership group, and it will have to negotiate something regarding the Sears space, which Sears owns. IGP could either purchase the space or whichever business might take over the space could buy it.
“It’s an opportunity for (IGP) to start reshaping the mall experience, and that’s how malls are surviving – creating more of an experience,”
The Sears closings in Missouri – Independence Center, the Mid Rivers Mall in St. Peters and a store in Cape Girardeau – appear to have hit the last three large-format Sears stores in Missouri. The rest of the closings are spread across the country, from California to New York to Puerto Rico.