After trying to stave off a decade straight of unprofitable years, the inevitable has finally happened: the parent company of Sears and K-Mart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday morning. As a result, more than 100 stores will shutter at the end of the year, including the Kmart store in Middleburg Heights, one of the last remaining stores in Northeast Ohio.
The company has struggled with debt for years with the final straw being when the company couldn't pay a $134 million debt payment due on Monday.
Some local shopping centers will have a different landscape as some Sears and Kmart stores in Ohio have announced they will be closing their doors.
Sears—5320 Youngstown Road, Niles Ohio 44446
Kmart—15891 State Route 170, East Liverpool Ohio 43920
Kmart—17840 Bagley Road, Middleburg Heights Ohio 44130
The Middleburg Heights location, a stalwart of the company’s one-time profitable past, has been in operation for decades. These stores will have liquidation sales immediately, according to Business Insider.
“I liked shopping at Kmart and Sears. I was very disappointed to hear that Sears was closing more stores. And I’m sad about this one because I don’t know where there are more like it,” said longtime shopper Louise Beaty.
The company issued a statement on Monday saying it intends to stay in business, keeping stores which are profitable open, along with Sears and Kmart online shopping sites. The company is also looking for a buyer for a large number of stores that are remaining in business. It will also close an additional 142 stores near the end of this year, in addition to the 46 already planned to close next month.
The Middleburg Heights store will join the ranks of other Kmart and Sears stores to close in Northeast Ohio in recent years, including former locations in Ashtabula, Lorain, Streetsboro, Garfield Heights, and Cleveland, among others. One of the most recent closures, the former Kmart on West 150th Street and Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, forced many loyal shoppers to the Middleburg Heights location.
“The [former store] on West 150th is still empty,” Beaty said. “It’s not good. It doesn’t look good for the community.”
Monday’s announcement comes as Sears Holding continues to be suffocated by billions of dollars of debt. The company’s slumping sales have been exacerbated by the continued surge of massive retailers like Wal-Mart and online retailers like Amazon. However, the convenience of online shopping is no match for the convenience of stopping by their local store, Kmart shoppers said.
“It’s kind of sad really. You get what you want when you come in here. You know what's in the store,” said Bob Roberts. “You can look at other things that are on the shelf that you can’t get online like right now, I needed my things. I couldn’t order them online and have them dropped off in a couple days. I needed them right now. That’s what’s nice about shopping in a store, a real store.”