The Sears location in Oakwood Mall is among 46 Sears or Kmart stores that will close by November.
Sears Holdings released a statement Wednesday afternoon, confirming the Oakwood Mall Sears, at 4720 Golf Road, will close. A Sears store at Valley View Mall in La Crosse also will close.
The Sears Auto Center also will close by late October, the letter states.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to streamline Sears Holdings’ operations, strengthen our capital position and focus on our best stores, this week the company informed associates at 46 unprofitable stores that we will be closing these stores in November 2018,” the two-page letter states. “We continue to evaluate our network of stores, which is a critical component to our integrated retail transformation, and will make further adjustments as needed.”
Eligible employees will receive severance packages and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at any other area Kmart or Sears stores, the letter states.
“Liquidation sales will begin as early as Aug. 30 at these closing stores,” the letter states.
The breakdown is 13 Kmart stores and 33 Sears stores nationwide — including the two in Wisconsin. No stores in Minnesota are on the list.
The letter doesn’t indicate the number of workers affected.
Mike Schatz, Eau Claire economic development administrator, called it “bad news but not totally unexpected.”
“We’ve seen closing of Sears (stores) in different states,” Schatz said. “I feel bad for the employees affected. The whole retail industry — I guess ours wasn’t making money and they chose to close it. It’s nothing specifically wrong with the Eau Claire area, it’s just customers shifting demands.”
While some “big box” stores have closed recently, Schatz pointed out that Hobby Lobby just opened in Oakwood Mall and Mills Fleet Farm is building a new store.
“So it’s really not across the board,” Schatz said. “Some brands seem more vulnerable than others.”
Schatz said his immediate goal is making sure his office is able to help the workers find new jobs.
Eau Claire City Manager Dale Peters also expressed disappointment with the news.
“It’s an unfortunate loss for the city of Eau Claire and the region,” Peters said.
Like Schatz, Peters said it shows how shoppers are changing their routines.
“As a community, we’re not alone in having to adjust to the changes in the traditional retail market,” Peters said.