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Ceres losing one of its biggest retailers
• Kmart closing Hatch Road store
Customers of Kmart were saddened to hear of the impending closure of the Hatch Road Road store. The store has been in Ceres for decades. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Attention Kmart shoppers: the Ceres store is closing – forever.

That hasn’t been broadcast over blue light specials but the news of the closure of the Ceres store, along with 141 other Kmart and Sears stores, struck a sad chord in those who have shopped there over the past several decades.

Sears Holdings announced Monday that it will be closing the stores and begin liquidation sales as it tries to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“That makes me really sad,” said Elena Campos, who was shopping for Halloween costumes with her family Monday evening. “I’ve been coming here for so many years. It’s close to our house and we always find good bargains here. It makes me sad that all these good people are losing their jobs too.”

City officials expressed disappointment in the corporate decision but were expecting it.

“Not surprised as we knew this day would likely come, just a little sooner than we had expected,” said City Manager Toby Wells. “We are saddened to see a store close, but we are also excited for the potential that this location provides for our future.”

Kmart’s departure will affect city tax revenues but Wells is not convinced it will be a large loss.

“Kmart has been in our top 25 from a sales tax perspective for many years and the closure will have an impact, however, the Kmart revenues have been steadily declining for several years.  We expect a good percentage of the sales that are happening at Kmart will likely shift to other existing Ceres businesses likely mitigating the most of the impact.”

Filling the large retail space may prove difficult for the property owner given the current condition of the property, commented Wells, but much will depend on the aggressiveness of the property owner.

“We have talked to the new property owners and are optimistic that they will be pursuing changes to the property that will facilitate new tenants as soon as possible,” said Wells. 

The Sears store in the Vintage Faire Mall, a staple of Stanislaus County shoppers since 1977 when the mall opened, will also be closing.

The parent company of Kmart and Sears currently has about 700 stores open in the country and employs about 68,000 employees.

“The reduction in the number of stores that the company operates, as well as the reconfiguration of the stores it continues to operate, is part of the company’s larger process of transforming its business model to place a greater emphasis on providing dynamic online and in-person shopping experiences for its customers,” Sears wrote in the documents filed with the bankruptcy court Monday morning.

The troubled retail giant filed for bankruptcy after being unable to pay $134 million in loans that had come due. The retailer has suffered as new giants have risen, and its limited cash-flow has hindered its ability to invest in and revamp its stores.

The extensive list of Sears closures include stores in Merced, Pleasanton, Florin and Bakersfield. Other Kmart stores to close include Delano, Lemoore, Visalia and Placerville. The Oakdale Kmart was not on the list.