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Sears store to close

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Company closing 79 stores, including Crystal River’s

By Shemir Wiles

CRYSTAL RIVER — The Sears store in the Crystal River Mall will be closing its doors permanently in 2012, according to the retailer’s corporate website.

On Thursday, Sears Holding Corp., which controls the Sears and Kmart chains, released a list of 79 stores that will be shuttered after a disappointing holiday shopping season. The closures came as no surprise after the company announced Tuesday it would close 100 to 120 stores after a disappointing fourth quarter.

More closures are expected to be announced.

Of the three local stores that sat on the chopping block, Sears in Crystal River was the only causality in Thursday’s announcement. The Kmarts in both Crystal River and Inverness were not listed on the website as of Thursday afternoon.

Kim Freely, spokeswoman for Sears Holding Corp., said it had not been determined exactly when the stores will close or how many employees will be laid off.

“Employment varies by store and format, and at this time we cannot provide the total number of impacted associates,” she said. “But the typical full-line store employs about 40 to 80 associates.”

Dr. George Kaplan, an optometrist who practices at Suncoast Eye Center in Crystal River and Sears Optical inside the mall, said during a telephone interview Thursday he was sad to hear the news and hoped it was not “an omen of things to happen over there.”

Nevertheless, he said he wanted his patients to know that even with the store closing, he will continue to practice in Citrus County.

“I want to assure my patients that I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

Jenny Arcadipane, who with her husband, Angelo, owns FS Music across from Radio Shack in the mall, expressed disappointment over the news Thursday.

“It’s sad when you hear something like that,” she said. “You never want to see that happen.”

Arcadipane said she first heard about the store’s closing on the news. After hearing about retailers seeing a 17 percent increase in online sales during the holiday season, in the next breath was the announcement of the store closures, she said.

People need to shop local and inside the brick-and-mortar storefronts, Arcadipane added. She, for one, said she always made it a point to shop at both Sears and Kmart.

“It actually hurts local business. You’re really not helping anybody when you shop online,” she said.
John Siefert, executive director of the Citrus County Economic Development Council, said he was notified about Sears closing Thursday.

“I think it’s a real disappointment,” he said. “The store was important to Citrus County and Crystal River.”

However, Siefert stated the EDC would work with Boxer Retail, the Dallas-based receiver that took over management of the mall in May, to attract a new retailer to replace Sears. He also said the EDC will continue to work with Boxer Retail and the City of Crystal River on brainstorming ways to increase foot traffic in the mall and will work next week with Workforce Connection on getting those facing unemployment registered with Employ Florida Marketplace.

John Marlowe, director of leasing with Boxer Retail, said Thursday he had not been notified yet of the Sears closing, but knew it was a possibility.

While he, too, said he hates to see Sears go, he remains positive the ordeal might make a better opportunity to bring new tenants into the mall.

Laura Byrnes, spokeswoman for Workforce Connection, which serves Citrus, Levy and Marion counties, said once they are notified by management, Workforce will certainly offer assistance in any way they can.

Job seekers should register on www.EmployFlorida.com. To find out more about services available at Workforce Connection, go to www.clmworkforce.com or call toll free (800) 434-JOBS and speak to a Workforce Representative.