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Sears cuts last remaining Columbia store

Retail
Travis Boland
  • Travis Boland
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Sears Holdings Corp. announced today plans to close 72 locations, including its Sears store and Sears Auto Center at Columbia Place Mall. In total, 16 Sears stores, 49 Kmart stores and seven auto centers will be closed, the company said.

“We are making the difficult, but necessary decision to close these Sears stores,” said Howard Riefs, corporate communications director. “The stores will close to the public in early September.”

Kmart stores in Summerville and Seneca were also on closure list, first reported by Business Insider.

Today’s announcement marks the second round of store closings this year, after Sears Holdings announced in January 150 stores would be shuttered. In April 2016, the group closed a Kmart store in Camden.

Today’s announcement also would bring the number of Sears stores to approximately 1,200, down from 2,073 five years ago.

“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and have accelerated the closing of unprofitable stores,” Riefs said.

Riefs said a liquidation sale for the Columbia Place store will begin June 16.

Sears previously operated a second Columbia area store at Columbiana Centre, but closed it in March of 2014 after electing not to renew its lease.

Belk spent $6.1 million to expand and remodel its existing store at Columbiana and relocate the men’s apparel and shoe departments in the Sears space. Dave & Buster’s restaurant recently opened in the downstairs level for the former Sears space at Columbiana.

Sears’ Hometown stores in Lexington and Lugoff, which carry Sears brand hardware and appliances, are operated by independent retailers.

With the closing of Sears, Columbia Place’s two remaining anchor tenants are Burlington Coat Factory and Macy’s.

Columbia Place, located on a 93-acre site at the corner of Decker Boulevard and Two Notch Road, was opened in 1977 and underwent renovations in 2002. On Oct. 29, 2014, Columbia Place was acquired by Moonbeam Capital Investments, a private equity investment firm based in Las Vegas, Nev.

Sears, which once advertised it was the place “Where America Shops,” has been in a financial tailspin in recent years battling to attract customers who have flocked to online sites like that of ecommerce giant Amazon.

There’s some evidence that cost-cutting moves such as closing its stores is paying off. In its financial report for the first quarter of 2017, Sears Holdings reported its first profit in two years. Earnings totaled $244 million for the first quarter compared with a net loss of $471 million for the prior year first quarter.

Reach Travis Boland at colanews@scbiznews.com.

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