Sears’ impending closure leaves Great Northern Mall management and customers worried about the repercussions of losing the longtime anchor store. The news is compounded by concerns about the future of two other anchor stores, JCPenney and Macy’s, both of which have reported financial challenges.
Great Northern officials weren’t given notice of Sears’ current liquidation sale and impending closing, said mall General Manager Kristin Cala. “We found out when everybody else did,” she said.
Sears is one of the original anchor stores for the mall, which opened in 1976. The departure leaves Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dillard’s as the anchor stores, along with JC Penney and Macy’s.
Officials at Great Northern and Starwood Retail Partners, the Chicago firm that runs the mall, are considering the implications of Sears’ closing. “Our corporate officials are always reviewing different potential strategies and options about leasing and other potential opportunities,” Cala said.
Starwood officials did not return a phone call.
Sears has not told her its closing date, Cala said, adding that she doesn’t know how many employees work at the Great Northern store. Store managers referred questions to the corporate office. However, Sears corporate officials declined to comment.
Pat Mears, 54, of North Olmsted, has been shopping at Sears for more than 30 years. A retired tool and die worker at Voss Aerospace, Mears bought a wide range of lawn and home care equipment at the store.
“I didn’t want a bunch of junk,” Mears said. “What I got from Sears was high quality and I knew I could do good work with them. I also could get them repaired when I needed to and replace them with something good when the time came to get something new.”
Mears said he can go to other stores for equipment, but added it will be an adjustment.
“I trusted what I got from Sears because it worked well and lasted,” Mears said.
Despite the coming loss of Sears, Cala said she is encouraged by what she sees in the mall.
“We’re seeing an increase in foot traffic,” Cala said. “People are coming out more and as we continue to work on getting things back up again, we should see more business and interest in what is going on at the mall.”
North Olmsted city officials also are preparing to deal with the loss of Sears.
“It’s the end of an era, no doubt about that,” said Councilman Paul Schumann, the finance committee chairman. “It was just about the last Sears in Ohio. It’s tough because people will be losing jobs and that’s sad. I don’t know how much of an economic impact it will have because I’m not sure if they were doing a lot of business lately.”
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