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‘Just Feel Sad’

West Ellicott Kmart Slated To Close In October

Kmart will close its West Ellicott location in late October, Sears Holdings Corp. announced. P-J file photo

Kmart, a staple along Fairmount Avenue and a symbol of the big box store era of the ’90s, is closing its West Ellicott location. It’s one of 26 Kmart or Sears locations that will shut its door by late October, Sears Holdings Corp. announced Tuesday.

News of the closure spread quickly, with many longtime patrons saying they will miss the less-hectic shopping experience and layaway option.

“I just feel sad — I worked there,” Kim Schosek told The Post-Journal. “People like that it was less busy as Walmart and cleaner. … I think online shopping is the reason a lot of places suffer. People are busy (and) it’s easier to go online.”

Jodi Oberther-Painter has lived in Jamestown for close to nine years. She said she liked to shop at Kmart because of its layaway program.

“Many people in this area struggle or have big families, and that is how they have to shop for Christmas or back to school,” said Oberther-Painter, who noted that she knew some of the store’s employees. “It is sad to think that they have to look for another job.”

Kmart pictured under construction in May 1995. Many longtime patrons said they will miss the easy shopping experience and layaway program. P-J file photo

“I’m definitely going to miss the layaway, but also the fact that it was an easy place to shop,” she continued. “It wasn’t always jam-packed like Walmart is most of the time. … It’s a tremendous shame this has to happen.”

Others, meanwhile, said they were surprised the local box store stayed open as long as it did. Hundreds of stores have closed in the last decade, many coming in the last few years.

Rounds of closings were announced in June, October and November of last year. Each time, the local Kmart avoided the lists — until now.

A manager who answered the phone at the West Ellicott store referred questions to Sears Holdings.

Eldon W. Gottschalk & Associates Inc. has been hired to handle the advertisement campaign for the 975 Fairmount Ave. store’s closing. The Huntington Beach, Calif.-based company said sales will begin Thursday, Aug. 15, and last about 11 weeks.

Transform Co., the company formed to acquire Sears Holdings Corp assets, said it has faced a “number of challenges returning our stores to sustainable levels of productivity,” and noted the weak retail environment.

“We have made the difficult but necessary decision to close 26 large-format Sears and Kmart stores in late October,” Transform said.

The company first set its eyes on the Jamestown area in early 1993, hoping to take advantage of the heavily traveled Fairmount Avenue. A store was formerly announced in October of that year, around that same Wegmans said it planned to open one of its grocery stores next door.

On the first day Kmart began accepting applications, about 100 people showed up on the store’s doorstep. More than 150 full- and part-time were available.

Kmart finally opened in May 1995 after weather briefly delayed construction.

The retailer was one of the last in the area. In Dunkirk, Kmart opened its Vineyard Drive location in August 1993. The store’s closure was announced in March 2002.

The Warren, Pa., location closed in December 2014.

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