Jonesboro Kmart to close

Sears Holding closing six stores throughout state

It seems to be a routine occurrence in today’s sluggish economy.

Sears Holdings Corporation recently announced it will close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart full-line stores, according to officials of the corporation.

Sears Holdings is the nation’s fourth-largest broadline retailer, with 4,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

According to a Sears Holdings document, the corporation will close six stores in the state of Georgia, including a Kmart located at 7965 Tara Blvd., in Jonesboro. The remaining Kmart stores set to close are located at: 1605 Buford Highway, in Buford; 9552 Highway 5, in Douglasville; 230 Cleveland Ave. S.W., in Atlanta, and 5600 Milgen Road, in Columbus.

The Sears locale at 3661 Eisenhower Parkway in Macon will shut down as well. The dates of closing for all stores will be announced later.

The document shows a list of 80 of the up to 120 stores that will close in a variety of states, including Florida, Idaho and Kentucky. These stores typically employ 40, to 80 associates. The closings are due to a combination of lower sales, ongoing margin pressures and expense boosts that negatively affected the company’s Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization, officials said.

“Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” said Sears Holdings CEO and President Lou D’Ambrosio, in a written statement.

Sears Holdings declined to comment further on the matter. Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day said the Jonesboro Kmart store is located in unincorporated Clayton County, but the closing will still impact Jonesboro citizens, since the store is located near the city limits. “It is indicative of our economy,” she added.

She said the closing will probably have a ripple effect on the stores housed in that plaza, since Kmart is one of two anchors there. Day said she sympathizes with the associates working there.

Jonesboro Councilmember Randy Segner, who is also a real estate broker, said it’s amazing how thriving the shopping plaza was about a decade ago. “Think about what you used to have there,” he said. “You had Empire of China, and all the [other] restaurants, 10 years ago. I just got back from Florida ... and you just go everywhere, and its just no empty strip centers. It’s just booming, even in a bad economy.

Clayton County Economic Development Director Grant Wainscott said county residents, who will be unemployed because of the closing, should contact the Georgia Department of Labor and consider the county’s Work Ready program, which provides many tools for the unemployed to enter the work force again.

Jobless residents interested in the program should contact Clayton County Economic Development, at (770) 477-4450, and the Department of Labor, at (678) 479-5886.

He said county residents play a part in maintaining local businesses. People must shop locally to keep local businesses alive and ticking, he said. “The county only gets a percentage of retail tax generated,” he explained. “A lot of it gets to the state and generated back to the community.”

He said Kmart’s closing is an example of the retail life cycle, and Atlanta is a model of unsustainable retail development. Wainscott said there are abundant businesses in Clayton County, but the number doesn’t balance the amount of people living in it. “We’re not building enough new houses and having enough people move in to justify all these stores,” he added.

He said, however, that Clayton is currently beginning to see a switch in its market, especially on industrial businesses. “We will be able to weather challenges like this a lot better because of the vibrant business market and the world’s busiest airport,” said the economic development director.

Wainscott said Clayton residents are not going to see the same amount of retail they had five or six years ago. He said it was once common to see the same stores in close proximity to one another, but, now, it’s an inconvenient business move for most retailers. “We want citizens to realize that retail correction is going to happen,” said Wainscott.

He said the county is currently working on its “new front door” to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which focuses on the I-75 corridor, from Forest Park to the Charles W. Grant Parkway exit/Mountain View area. “Our goal is to grow jobs and investment, in order to bring more economic wealth into the county ... to support retail spending, and increase home pricing,” he said.

He said the Mountain View area is attractive to the global logistics industry because it will be near the new Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, and the new headquarters of Porsche Cars North America Inc.

–– Staff writer Curt Yeomans contributed to this article.