Updated: Sears will close Champaign store in January

CHAMPAIGN — Sears will close its store and auto center at Champaign's Market Place Mall in January, a company spokesman said Friday.

The store began a liquidation sale Friday, advertising discounts on all merchandise.

Sears, which has had a store in Champaign for 85 years, employs 56 at Market Place, said Howard Riefs, a spokesman for Sears Holdings Corp.

"They will have an opportunity to apply for positions at other Kmart and Sears stores," he stated in an email. "Eligible employees will receive severance."

The shutdown comes as no surprise. Sears announced in February 2012 that it would close the store sometime in 2013.

That announcement came after Sears arranged the transfer of rights to that location and 10 other Sears locations to General Growth Properties, which owns Market Place Mall and other malls throughout the country.

"The store closures are part of a series of actions we're taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model," Riefs said.

"These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail — at the store, online and in the home."

Riefs said there are no plans to open another area store.

Once Sears closes in Champaign, local shoppers wanting to visit a Sears store will have to go to Danville's Village Mall, Mattoon's Cross County Mall, Bloomington's Eastland Mall, Forsyth's Hickory Point Mall or farther.

The Sears store at Market Place occupies 150,932 square feet, said Dennis Robertson, general manager of Market Place Shopping Center. He said plans for the Sears space are still being negotiated by General Growth Properties.

The Sears store at Market Place formally opened on Oct. 15, 1975, with about 400 employees. Before moving to Market Place, Sears was located on North Hickory Street in downtown Champaign.

According to a 1950 article in The News-Gazette, Sears opened its local store on Nov. 18, 1928 — only three years after Sears moved into retailing. Before that, Sears, Roebuck & Co. had been a mail-order firm.

As of Feb. 2, 2013, Sears Holdings Corp. operated 788 full-line Sears stores, according to the company's annual report. However, Sears has sold off several properties this year to generate cash.

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (2):Employment, Retail

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Sid Saltfork wrote on October 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

Wait, wait...... I thought the big tax break that Mr. Fuddles... er, the Right and Honorable Pat Quinn, gave to Sears less than two years ago was an agreement that Sears would not close stores in Illinois.   Was it only that Sears would keep it's corporate headquarters in Illinois?   Will Sears continue to get the tax break?

Why is there no investigative journalism into Mr. Fuddles "campaign donations"?  Why are the owed public employee retirees having their earned pensions slashed, and earned benefits reduced when "corporate welfare" thrives in exchange for "campaign donations"?

EdRyan wrote on October 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

Probably a nice multimillion dollar deal like they want to give ADM to move the HQ to Chicago.

Local Yocal wrote on October 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm
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"....why is there no investigative journalism..."

Because Don Dodson probably forgot there was even a tax break given to Sears (a big one) and in order to bring us "the latest news, the fastest" (a journalism standard of faulty quality) Don here just transcribes what Sears is willing to let the public know. It's surprising he had time to include a little history of the store and franchise.

And besides, Sears has been a terrific long-time advertiser in The N-G so why criticize what surely is a "sound business move" in order to keep profits high and shareholders and executives happy- er I mean, in order to stay in business during a "tough economy?"

I'm curious of the strategy of keeping the Danville, Mattoon, Forsythe, and Bloomington stores open. Those towns are earning more than the Champaign store? Unless....this euphemistic press release will be used again to announce more closures.....

The long-term investigation piece to be done, but won't because who cares about little people, is how many of the 56 employees will find employment afterwards? 

And it will be interesting to see if Market Place can fill the space after Sears leaves. They've had since February 2012 to "negotiate" for a replacement. Hey Health Alliance, want to have a Champaign branch? Oh wait, Gov. Fuddles didn't favor your company, did he?

aking wrote on October 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

When I moved here 2 1/2 years ago I was thoroughly disappointed with the lack of merchandise Sears had on their sales floor.  We love the Sprocket brand that Sears carries in some stores and was sad to see it not carried locally.  It is no surprise that the store was deemed unviable.

Orbiter wrote on October 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Sid has it right on.  The taxpayer gave a nice welfare package to Sears to keep the HQ in Illinois, and so it's insulting that they'd close up their shops.

Maybe we can get a K-Mart in that space at Marketplace Mall.  Then at least JCPenny wouldn't be the low-end retailer.

Lostinspace wrote on October 29, 2013 at 7:10 am

Bring back Huey's.

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 29, 2013 at 11:10 am

Hopefully; it will become an indoor paintball range, and forum for Illinois politicians to deliver speeches.

At least for now this winter, it could be used to house the homeless rather than sit empty.

 

itazurakko wrote on October 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I'd go, if we can have the paintball and the speeches happening at the same time...

Sid Saltfork wrote on October 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm

That is what I want; "moving" speeches.