Dover's 40-year-old Kmart store will close in July.
A representative from Sears Holdings Corporation confirmed on Wednesday the closure of Dover’s Kmart store at 515 N. Dupont Highway, saying the 40-year-old store will shut its doors in mid-summer.
Sears Holdings is a corporate entity created in 2005 with the merger of Kmart and Sears Roebuck and Co.
Director of Corporate Communications Howard Riefs said the store will go out of business around the middle of July, but did not give a specific date.
The closure will put 72 part-time and hourly workers out of a job, he said.
The loss of the Dover store is just part of a recent series of setbacks for the company, which posted a major loss in the final quarter of 2013 after holiday sales plummeted.
In a February letter to Sears Holdings shareholders, Chairman Edward S. “Eddie” Lampert said the company realized a net loss of $358 million for the last quarter of 2013 and $1.4 billion for all of 2013.
“Store closures are a 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.
Kent County Economic Development Director Jim Waddington said the news did not come as a surprise, given the fact Sears Holdings has closed hundreds of stores nationwide over the past two to three years.
“We did know about it,” Waddington said, adding he’d been investigating reports of a possible closure ever since a Kmart employee had contacted Levy Court.
“I talked to the store manager and visited the store, and was told that making any comments was above their pay grade. It was a corporate decision,” he said, “and there doesn’t appear to have been an opportunity to convince them otherwise.
“I don’t know what their motivation is for closing the Dover store.”
Waddington and city of Dover Economic Development Director Bill Neaton said they plan to hold a job fair to help the store’s employees find new jobs, while Riefs said eligible workers will receive severance pay and that all would have an opportunity to apply for positions at other Kmart or Sears stores.
As of April 3, the store had not posted any information about the pending closure other than to advise it no longer will take layaways.
Asked about the closure after finishing a shopping trip to the Kmart, Dover resident Daniel Creech said he hadn’t heard the news, but was disappointed to learn the city would be losing another retail outlet.
“It stinks,” he said. “I get a lot of good bargains here.”
Hi daughter Caitlyn Creech, who said she’d learned of the store’s fate through word of mouth, also was unhappy.
“I think it’s a shame to have another building sitting here in Dover, empty,” she said.
Riefs said the store will begin a liquidation sale Sunday, April 27.