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Richmond store among list of Sears closing nationwide

HENRICO, Va. — Sears announced another round of closures nationwide, including one local store.

The Regency Square location, including the Auto Center, will close by September, according to Business Insider, who obtained the internal memo. The information was confirmed by a store employee who said they were informed by corporate today. The Glen Allen and Chesterfield locations will remain open, he said.

Just four days into 2017, Sears Holdings, which manages Kmart and Sears, announced the closure of dozens of additional Kmart and Sears locations.  Later in March, the company warned investors that it can’t promise it will stay in business.

The latest tally of stores to close, reported by Business Insider, is 72. That includes 16 Sears’ stores, 49 Kmart stores, and seven auto centers.

These most recent round closures bring Sears’ store count to about 1,200, down from 3,400 U.S. stores at just over 10 years ago.

Regency is undergoing changes of its own, soon. The mall, owned by Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, now has leases in play for a movie multiplex, an indoor trampoline park and a West Coast pizza chain’s first Richmond location, the future of a long-struggling West End mall is beginning to take shape [READNew stores, restaurants, movie theater coming to Regency Square].

The sale of the mall did not include the buildings owned by Sears and J.C. Penney.

Sears helped shape shopping from home

Sears was once the nation’s largest retailer and business employer. Long before the ascendance of Walmart, and decades before Amazon was even born, the Sears catalog was how many Americans learned to shop from home for a large variety of items they wanted.

It developed an extensive store network, helping furnish homes as Americans moved to the suburbs after World War II — and causing trouble for small, locally owned shops.

The company at one time grew to include not just the retail business but a bank, a brokerage, a real estate company and what was then the world’s tallest building, the Sears Tower, for its Chicago headquarters.

Kmart had a proud tradition of its own as one of the first major discount chains.

Its history, like that of Sears, stretches to the late 19th century. It became known for its “blue light specials,” short-lived sales signaled by a flashing light and a public address announcement.

Kmart also bought many other retail chains that have since gone out of business, including Borders Books and Sports Authority. It filed for bankruptcy in 2002 shortly before Sears merged with its remains.

The retail landscape is littered with storied brands that have closed in recent years as brick-and-mortar stores became an albatross in the face of growing competition online.

Just in the last year, Sports Authority and The Limited have closed, and RadioShack and American Apparel are both in their second bankruptcies and in danger of shutting down. Macy’s, JCPenney and Staples have announced widespread store closing plans.

The problems for Sears started well before the growth of online shopping. More than 20 years ago, it began to suffer from competition from low-price competitors such as Walmart, and big-box stores such as Home Depot. It lost its place in the Dow Jones index of the nation’s most important companies in 1999.

Then came growing competition from Amazon and other online retailers. Analysts said Sears Holdings did little to invest in either the Sears or Kmart brand, instead trying to cut its way back to profitability by trimming advertising and closing stores.