Sears Holdings has strived to keep Kmart from faltering nationally for years, but come August, the effect of those struggles could be felt in Laramie.
“We are making the difficult, but necessary decision to close the Kmart store at 750 N. Third Street in Laramie,” Sears Holdings Corporate Communications Director Howard Riefs writes in an email. “The store will close to the public in early August 2018. Until then, it will remain open for customers.”
Riefs says the company has been strategically and aggressively evaluating Kmart store space and productivity — thus, accelerating the closing of unprofitable stores such as the Laramie branch.
“This is not an effort solely aimed at cost savings but is part of a strategy we’ve been executing … as many of our larger stores are too big for our needs,” he writes. “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.”
The number of employees affected by the closure is not publicly available, Riefs says. But, eligible associates are scheduled to receive severance and an opportunity to apply for open positions at other Sears or Kmart stores in the area, he says.
Mayor Andi Summerville said the closure is a blow to Laramie’s economy, but with the help of the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, Retail Coach and the location’s property owners, she hopes the location will not be empty for long.
“We never like to see stores close,” Summerville said. “We’ll work with our partners to make sure that property is filled as soon as possible.”
A recent Retail Coach analysis revealed Laramie is leaking millions of dollars to nearby communities, and while Summerville said the City Council is working to close the gap, she was not sure what effect the lack of a Kmart would have on economic development in the city.
“Without knowing exactly what Kmart was capturing in sales, it’s hard to know if this will contribute to leakage,” she said. “I don’t think Kmart’s closing is as much a reflection on the community as it is the national struggles that brand has had.”
Despite the news, Summerville said she was optimistic about a quick solution.
“My hope is we won’t see a dip in retail sales,” she said.
“Because, we hope to repurpose that building quickly.”