By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor

COOKEVILLE – On the heels of last week’s announcement regarding Kmart’s closure, Sears corporate has announced plans to permanently close its Jackson Plaza location by February 2018.

“We can confirm that we are making the difficult, but necessary decision to close the Sears in Cookeville, Tenn.,” Howard Riefs, Director of Corporate Communications for Sears Holdings Corp. (SHC), confirmed to the UCBJ Thursday.

Following up on reports the store was closing, the UCBJ reached out to the local store for comment.

According to one associate, the store’s closing was reportedly the result of a lease deal that fell through, adding Sears had no plans to leave Cookeville and that it would reopen in a new location yet to be determined.

When asked to confirm that statement, Riefs told the UCBJ: “That’s not accurate. There are no such plans.”

“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and have accelerated the closing of unprofitable stores as previously announced,” he said.

Riefs added that many of the company’s larger stores are simply too big for the company’s needs.

“Having fewer stores – and the right format – will help us bring Sears Holdings to a size and place to meet the realities of the changing retail world,” he said.

According to current plans, liquidation sales at the Cookeville Sears store will begin Dec. 1.

While many retailers are gearing up for the holiday shopping season, Sears employees are facing uncertainty following the news of their employer’s plans to close.

“This is the worst,” Terry Randolph, Sears sales representative, told the UCBJ. “It’s hit us very heavily. One thing about Sears, we are rather different from other retailers. We truly are a family. Like so many retailers, we did not have a great turnover so a lot of our employees have been with us for years; several since the day that we opened.”

Just last week, Sears Holdings Corp. announced its plans to close 45 Kmart stores – including the Cookeville Kmart location – and 18 Sears stores it deemed unprofitable. At the time of that release, the Cookeville Sears location was not listed among the 18 stores tagged for closure.

As with the announcement of Kmart’s closure, the number of associates that will be affected by this closure is not publicly available. Like their Kmart counterparts, eligible Sears associates will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores.

A Sears Hometown Store outlet, located in Crossville, will be the last remaining Sears store in the UC.

Editor’s Note: The article previously mentioned the Crossville Sears Hometown Store outlet would be the last remaining Sears store in the UC. However, the McMinnville Sears Hometown Store outlet is still open as well. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight. 

Amye Anderson is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached at amye@ucbjournal.com.