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Kmarts in Toledo, Monroe to close

Oregon, Fostoria stores last in region

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    The Kmart store on Alexis Road is the last one in Toledo. Two other stores in the city were closed in 2012.

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    Gayla Price, 52, of Toledo said she would be sad to see the Alexis Road store close. ‘I don’t want it to go. They’ve got great deals. ... I grew up with Kmart, you know what I mean?’

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Sears Holding Corp., which last month announced it will close the last full-line Sears store in metro Toledo, said Friday that it is pulling the plug on the last Kmart in Toledo and also the Kmart in Monroe, Mich.

The two stores, located at 1801 Alexis Rd. and at 1290 N. Monroe St., are part of a list of 35 Kmarts and eight Sears stores slated to be closed by early October. One Sears store on the list will close in August.

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Gayla Price, 52, of Toledo said she would be sad to see the Alexis Road store close. ‘I don’t want it to go. They’ve got great deals. ... I grew up with Kmart, you know what I mean?’

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Sears Holding, based in suburban Chicago, said liquidation sales at some stores on the list would begin as early as next Thursday.

“I knew Sears was closing, I found out on Facebook about that, and I asked [Kmart] today and they said they just found out today that they were closing,” said Peggy Irwin, 55, of Toledo, who was shopping at the Alexis Road store on Friday afternoon.

“... First we lose Andersons, and then Sears, and now this — what’s next?” she said.

RELATED CONTENT: Westgate Sears set to close in September

The company said that employees impacted by the closures would receive severance and also could apply for open positions at other nearby Kmart or Sears stores.

But in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, those opportunities are slim.

Closing the Alexis Road store means the Kmart at 2830 Navarre Ave. in Oregon will be the last of what was six area Kmarts. The Oregon store and one in Fostoria are the only remaining Kmarts within 50 miles of Toledo.

The closings were announced Friday in a blog post by Sears Holding Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert, who said the parent company continues to focus on its best stores and close unprofitable ones to help return the company to profitability.

“This is part of a strategy both to address losses from unprofitable stores and to reduce the square footage of other stores because many of them are simply too big for our current needs,” Mr. Lampert wrote.

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The Kmart store on Alexis Road is the last one in Toledo. Two other stores in the city were closed in 2012.

THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“Having the right formats and right sized stores will help us put Sears Holdings in a better position to meet the realities of the changing retail world,” he added.

Kmart shopper Gayla Price, 52, of Toledo works in Michigan and Ohio and has seen other Kmarts close. She said she is sad to see the Alexis Road store close too.

“I mean, it would be sad for it to go, I don’t want it to go. They’ve got great deals. ... I grew up with Kmart, you know what I mean? You think of Kmart, and you think of somewhere to save a little money, and you know, that’s in the neighborhood, and I don’t live far, so it’ll be sad for it to go,” she said.

Toledoan Antoine Smoki, 78, spent two months shopping around town for drapes that were nice but reasonably priced. He finally found some at Kmart on Alexis.

“I found them here and Walmart. Other than that, you know, they’re pricey elsewhere. I’m not paying $200, $300 for one window,” he said. “I thought, ‘Let me try Kmart.’ ”

Sears Holding previously announced hundreds of store closings. But in March it told investors that there was “substantial doubt” it could survive after years of losses.

Mr. Lampert noted in his post that Sears has opened smaller stores in Texas and Colorado and is on track to cut $1.25 billion in yearly costs. There were 624 Kmart stores and 651 Sears stores as of the end of April.

In the Toledo area, Kmart’s golden years were in the 1960s and 1970s, when the company, then based in Detroit, was on the rise and frequently opening new stores across the region.

When the Alexis Road Kmart opened in 1975, it was the fifth one in the Toledo area and the largest store at 84,180 square feet. It also was the first area Kmart to feature a complete building supply department that included paneling, ceiling and floor tiles, and lumber.

Prior to opening, the store received more than 3,000 job applications for just 100 available positions.

The Alexis Road store also was the first area Kmart to feature an adjacent Kmart Food Store run by the former A&P Super Markets chain.

A few years after the Alexis Road store opened, Kmart added its sixth and final area store on Carronade Drive in Perrysburg.

After the company’s profitability and sales peaked about 1992 it began to flounder with the growth of Walmart and Target.

A Sylvania Township store on West Central Avenue closed in 2006, then the Perrysburg store was closed in 2009. In 2012, Kmart closed two Toledo stores, on South Reynolds Road and East Manhattan Boulevard.

Staff writer Victorio Cabrera contributed to this report.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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