Vienna Kmart to close in January

Photo by Art Smith Shoppers come and go from the Vienna Kmart Thursday.

VIENNA — A retailing fixture along Grand Central Avenue will soon be closing its doors.

In a press release from Sears Holdings Corp., which owns Kmart and Sears, the company announced the Vienna Kmart will be among 63 closings, which will occur in early 2018.

“The company on Thursday … informed associates at 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores that we will be closing these stores in late January 2018,” according to the press release.

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said the action was unfortunate for the city.

“We hate to lose them; they were a great asset to our community and provided jobs,” he said. “It’s unfortunate this is happening. They are an established business and we hate to lose any business.”

Rapp said he hopes the size of the building will make it easy to find a new tenant.

“I hope we can get someone in there quickly,” he said.

Lindsey Kerr Piersol, director of the Wood County Economic Development Office, said while losing a retailer is not good, she does not think the space will be empty long.

“With all the traffic along Grand Central Avenue and near the Grand Central Mall, I do not see that being empty very long,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for a retailer to come in to the area and developers are always looking for a place in that area. I’ll be very surprised if it is empty long.”

Other West Virginia locations slated to close are in Martinsburg and Beckley.

Paul Thornton, community development director for the City of Vienna, said the city is ready to do what it can to help find a tenant or tenants to fill the store.

“I’ve been hearing rumors about this store closing for the past six to eight months,” he said. “That store has been there for 30 or more years. It’s hard to remember it not being there. It’s been a part of this area for a long time.”

The Marietta Kmart store was not among the five Ohio stores included in the list. Ohio locations to close are St. Marys, Cleveland, Oregon, Austintown and Hillsboro.

No Sears stores in West Virginia or Ohio were on the list.

Thursday’s press release says the move is part of a continuing “strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base.”

The number of associates affected was not available, according to a spokesman for Sears Holdings. The release said the majority of positions lost are part time and that full-time eligible employees will be given severance and the opportunity to transfer to another store.

Sears Holdings Corp. officials said the stores on the list will be open to serve customers throughout the holiday season.

“Liquidation sales will begin as early as Nov. 9 at these closing stores,” according to the release.