By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor

COOKEVILLE – The news came as a surprise to some. Others were surprised the store managed to avoid closure for as long as it did. After nearly 45 years of serving Cookeville, the local Kmart store will close its doors for good after the 2017 holiday season.

A statement released by the Sears Holding Corporation (SHC) Thursday named 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores tagged for closure by January 2018 – with the Cookeville location listed among them.

Associates at the Cookeville store, located at 560 S. Jefferson Ave., declined to comment on the news of the impending closure and questions were directed to the corporate communications department.

Howard Riefs, SHC’s corporate communications director, told the UCBJ the number of store associates impacted by the closure is not available but the majority of the jobs affected are part-time positions.

“Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores,” he added.

In a statement released Thursdsay, SHC said: “Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size. In the process, as previously announced we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.”

While liquidation sales could begin as early as Nov. 9, the stores tagged for closure are expected to remain open through the 2017 holiday season. No details were provided regarding when the Cookeville store will begin liquidation and officially close for good.

The Cookeville store is one of three Tennessee Kmart locations slated for closure. Other stores named are located in Nashville, on Donelson Pike, and in Tullahoma, on N. Jackson Avenue. With the closure of these locations, only 10 Tennessee Kmart locations will remain. The Crossville store will be the last remaining UC Kmart.

No Sears locations in Tennessee were named in this latest list of closures.

In September, UCBJ contacted the Sears corporate communications department via email regarding the possibility of the Cookeville Sears location downsizing or closing. Riefs responded then stating, “Bad rumor. The store will remain open.”

In the last decade, stock prices for Sears Holdings, the parent company of the Kmart and Sears brands, have steadily declined from $144 a share in April 2007 to nearly $5.50 a share today. Kmart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002 and later purchased Sears in 2004, changing its name from the Kmart Holdings Company to Sears Holdings Company; the name the brands currently operate under.

Amye Anderson is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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