A.L. Sears will not close

Published 7:46 am Sunday, January 1, 2012

The owner of Albert Lea’s Sears store wants to reassure area residents the local store will not be closing.

With the announcement this week that Sears Holdings Corp. would be closing between 100 and 120 Kmart and Sears full-line stores across the country, owner Richard King said he has been receiving many inquiries about whether the Albert Lea store will be affected.

At this point, he said, none of the hometown stores — or independent franchises — are affected.

The Albert Lea Sears store, 2722 Bridge Ave., will not be closing. Currently no independent franchises will be affected by the announcement that Sears Holding Corp. will be closing stores. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

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“They emphatically told us that,” King noted.

Under the hometown store model, he owns the store and Sears provides the product to sell in it. King said he has owned the Albert Lea store since the middle of 2010, but there has been a hometown store in the city under different ownership for more than 10 years. Prior to that, the business had been at the Northbridge Mall, and for several years there was a full-line store downtown on Washington Avenue.

“We just hope that everyone still visits us because we are going to still be in business,” he said. “We’re going to still be selling good products.”

The store, at 2722 Bridge Ave., sells appliances, electronics, lawn and garden items and tools, among others. It does not include the entire inventory found at the full-line stores.

The Sears Holdings Corp. announcement came on Tuesday after lower-than-expected performance during the fourth quarter.

On Thursday, the company released a partial list of the Kmart and Sears stores slated to close.

The list included four Minnesota Kmart stores — in Willmar, Duluth, New Hope and White Bear Lake. No Minnesota Sears stores were on the list.

The list represents 79 of the 100 to 120 store closings announced. The company said employment varies by stores and format, and it could not provide the total number of affected employees.

Sears Holdings said it could no longer prop up “marginally performing” locations and would refocus its efforts on stores that make money. Sears and Kmart merged in 2005. The projected closings represent only about 3 percent of Sears Holdings’ U.S. stores.

According to the company, Sears Holdings is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, consumer electronics and automotive repair and maintenance. It has more than 4,000 full-line and specialty stores in the United States and Canada.

The Albert Lea Sears can be reached at 377-2500.