The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local News

December 29, 2011

‘We hate to see it go’

Sears’ impending closure hands Anderson another loss

ANDERSON, Ind. — With the announcement that Sears in Mounds Mall will soon close comes customers sad to see it go and the removal of what some officials call an “anchor” of Anderson.

The location is one of 79 Sears and Kmart stores on the first list of closings; a closure date yet to be decided.

The final list could affect from 100 to 120 stores.

“I think it’s sad,” customer Susan Hughey said. “It’s a big store with a lot of different items and departments.”

Hughey lives near Chesterfield and said the mall’s location is convenient.

With stores like Kohl’s moving toward the interstate, she said it’s beginning to hurt the center of Anderson.

And with the county’s decreasing population and industry base changes, she said, places in Anderson like Mounds Mall are really being affected.

She’s already seen the mall change considerably since she’s lived here, mentioning the closure of J.C. Penney.

“(The mall) used to be a really busy place ...,” she said. “It’s sad to lose a big store.”

Kenny and Lorrie Kramer are from Perkinsville, but said they come out to Mounds Mall and Noblesville often to shop.

Kenny Kramer said he really likes Sears, especially the tool warranties.

“We hate to see it go,” he said.

The couple said Sears’ competition, stores like Target and especially Walmart, is what really hurt its business.

“I really think it’s going to hurt the mall,” Lorrie Kramer said. “Carson’s helps keeps it open.”

The closure, she said, is just another blow to Anderson.

“It’s another disappointing news for the community,” said Rob Sparks, executive director of the Madison County Corporation for Economic Development.

He said he, the city and other retailers have been working on additional ideas to redevelop the mall area.

“An anchor of (Sears’) size is a big loss,” he said. “When a big box store goes out, it’s difficult to fill those spaces.”  

Sears is the largest retailer at the mall and escaped closure in 1993 when Sears Holdings Corp. closed 113 stores nationwide, eliminating 50,000 jobs.

“It’s obviously a loss to Anderson customers who rely on a variety of retail opportunities to do shopping,” said Mayor-elect Kevin Smith.

He said he regretted the impact the closing would have on Sears’ employees and their families.

“It’s troubling news when it comes to Mounds Mall,” he said. “Sears has been an anchor for many years.”

Sears first opened in downtown Anderson in 1928, moving to a 97,000-square-foot facility at 12th and Main streets in 1947, where Anderson Public Library now stands.

It moved into the space formerly occupied by Montgomery Ward in Mounds Mall in 1983, and remodeled using space formerly occupied by Revco — and space from Woolworth for equipment storage — in May 1995, picking up 7,000 square feet and bringing the total sales floor to 52,000 square feet.

The grand reopening in October of that year was a big event with actor Patrick Tovatt, who played Cal Stricklyn on the soap opera “As the World Turns,” and former NASCAR driver Phil Parsons making appearances.

In 2003, the store expanded yet again, using a portrait studio and H&R block, among others.

“Sears has a long history in Anderson,” said Paul Muething, who managed the Mounds Mall Sears from 1987 to 2003. “I’m very sorry to hear it’s closing.”

Muething worked at Sears for 33 years, including stores in South Bend, Columbus, Ohio, and Ashland, Ky.

The Mounds Mall location is one of three store closings announced so far in Indiana; the two other sites an Indianapolis Kmart store at 7201 Pendleton Pike and a Kmart in St. John.

At this point, Michele Stark, assistant manager of Sears, said not much is known.

“We regret that we are unable to make a statement at this time,” Mounds Mall Marketing Director Braun Roosa said. “However, we hope to be in a position to do so in the near future.”

Associate Editor Steve Dick contributed to this story.

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