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Local Kmart closing met with sadness

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About 30 employees and local shoppers will be affected by the closing of Kmart on South Main Street, expected by the end of March. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The closing in late March of the local Kmart store on South Main Street will affect about 30 employees and has upset some local shoppers.

“It is sad to me because it is right around the corner from me, just a hop and a skip,” said Beatrice Romero, who said she shops there about four times a week. “It is sad. This was so convenient.”

Sears Holding Corp., the parent company to Kmart Corp. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., previously announced the closing of the local Sears store at 1000 S. Main St. in January 2017. That resulted in the loss of about 20 jobs in spring 2018 as well as the disappearance of a retailer that had been a Roswell staple since 1957.

A publicly traded corporation based in Hoffman, Illinois, Sears Holdings informed employees Dec. 27 of its intention to close 80 Sears and Kmart stores nationwide by the end of March, including the Roswell store at 1705 S. Main St. It is the only New Mexico location affected in this round of closures.

The shuttering of these brick-and-mortar outlets follows announcements of restructuring efforts that began as early as 2010 in response to what Sears officials have labeled a “retail apocalypse” caused by the rise of online retailers such as Amazon as well as the market dominance of other national discount retailers such as Walmart, Target and warehouse retailers.

In early 2018, Sears Holdings announced 46 store closures by November, and, in October, it told investors and the public of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and the plan to close an additional 142 stores by the end of 2018.

The retailer has explained that it intends to reorganize around profitable stores while enhancing online and mobile platforms. On Friday, corporation chairman Eddie Lampert met a court deadline to submit a plan to the bankruptcy court to save the corporation from liquidation. His $4.6 billion offer entailed buying 425 stores and saving about 50,000 jobs, but details of financing and other aspects of the deal had not been announced by press time. The bankruptcy case advisers have until Jan. 4 to consider the plan before liquidation bids are considered starting on Jan. 14.

The local store has about 30 to 35 employees now, a manager said Saturday, but he added that Sears Holdings Corp. has not provided any additional information than what was announced publicly.

Some local shoppers said that they will miss having the convenience of a large discount retailer on the south side of Roswell.

“They are closing all the stores that I have shopped at all my life, Sears, Kmart,” said Stephanie Alley. “Where are we supposed to shop now?”

Johnny Russell said he could remember when Kmart first opened in Roswell, which newspaper articles indicate was in 1974, and has shopped at the store regularly.

“I used to make deliveries here when I was a truck driver,” Russell said.

He added that he also appreciated having a discount retailer on South Main. He also said that he feels bad about employees losing their jobs and about shoppers having fewer store selections in town.

Like some other people, Russell has heard the rumors that Walmart intends to open a second location, a smaller “neighborhood market” store in Roswell, in the south part of the city. But Walmart Inc. has not responded to emails or calls about that matter.

Since 2016, Roswell has lost several chain retailers including Hastings Entertainment, Tuesday Morning and Payless Shoe Source stores. It has gained some specialty chain retailers, however, including Harbor Freight Tools and Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber Co.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.