Possible Sears liquidation would affect Kmart stores

Customers walk into the Marietta Kmart Tuesday. The store could close as Sears Holdings is liquidated. (Photo by Chad Plauche-Adkins)

MARIETTA – Marietta may have one less option for shopping after news of a potential shutdown of Kmart’s parent company, Sears Holdings, was released on Tuesday.

The news likely means Kmart stores will close, including the one in Marietta.

The closing would mean the loss of jobs in the area and a vacant building on one of Marietta’s main business thoroughfares.

According to Reuters, a proposed $4.4 billion takeover of Sears Holdings, the parent company of Kmart, fell through on Tuesday. Sears Holdings Chairman Edward Lampert has until 4 p.m. today to put in a $120 million deposit and a revised offer to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain. The proposal needs to pass Drain’s muster in order to stave off the liquidation of the company’s assets. If the offer isn’t approved, Kmart could begin liquidating their inventory as early as Monday. It’s unclear when affected stores would close.

Employees at Marietta’s Kmart declined to comment on Tuesday. Calls to the corporate office weren’t returned.

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said the news is something that nobody wants to hear.

“I just hate to see it happen,” he said.

Matthews said he has already been in contact with other large retailers, trying to draw them to the city even before the news of the potential closing.

“Hopefully we can get someone else in that building,” he said.

Washington County Commissioner David White said that with the recent financial concerns of the company, the news didn’t surprise him.

“It’s not 100 percent unexpected,” he said. ” But it is sort of sudden. I hate to see any business go under.”

White said that even though there is a potential loss of revenue to the county’s general fund with the closing, the government’s money isn’t his primary concern.

“Hopefully people will continue to shop in the county at another store,” he said. “There will be a number of people losing their jobs, though…My heart goes out to them.”

Isabella Dillon, manager of Bob Evans next to Kmart, said she didn’t think the potential closure would affect the restaurants sharing the parking lot with the retailer.

“It probably won’t hurt our business,” she said. “We rely more on people coming from the highway.”

Kim Warden-Rose, 59, of Williamstown, who was shopping at Kmart Tuesday, said she had an emotional reaction when she heard about the potential closing.

” (I started ) crying,” she said.

Warden-Rose said her father had been a manager at the Vienna location for 40 years before its closing in January 2018. She said her entire life had been spent around the retail giant.

“I even worked at the (south side Parkersburg) location for a few years,” she said.

Warden-Rose also said the workers at Kmart is what she will miss the most if the store closes.

“They are all my friends,” she said. “I’ve spent almost 60 years around them.”

Fellow shopper Shirley Thompson, 59, of Marietta, said that she isn’t surprised by the potential closing.

“I thought it would happen sooner,” she said.

Thompson said she has been using Kmart as her main retail outlet for several years.

“I quit going to Walmart four years ago,” she said. “Looks like I’ll be going back.”