By Jim Melwert and Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Kmart is announcing they’re closing two stores in Philadelphia, including one in the Gallery Mall.
Along with the Gallery Mall location, Kmart says they’re also closing a store in the Northeast at Orthodox Street and Castor Avenue.
Kmart officials did not speak on camera – but sent CBS 3 a statement saying:
“These decisions are never easy because Kmart appreciates being a member of the community. Store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model.”
“They are not making any money so they are closing up. I feel bad,” said Linda Brown. She is a former employee and is sad to hear about the closure. “I am kind of disappointed, I like Kmart.”
Customers we spoke with say they are not surprised.
“Nobody is really shopping at Kmart like they use to,” said shopper Clarence Singletary.
The stores will begin liquidation next month, and close in April. The Philadelphia Business Journal reports the closures will affect 289 employees.
“Everybody is worried about the consumer but they are forgetting about the people that work there,” explained Singletary.
The Center City location has 120 employees, most of whom are part-time.
Company officials say some of their staff will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at other locations.
Shoppers hope the space will not remain empty for too long.
Singletary said, “They have Costco’s? There are all kinds of things they can replace it with.”
“I wouldn’t mind seeing a Target put there,” Brown added.
The owner of the Gallery, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust has said it would like to upgrade the list of retailers in the mall.
The announcement has some thinking it could be good for the Gallery. “If they get the right thing, yeah,” says one Gallery patron. “Another clothing store, a clothing store’s always good, I think. I think it always brings money in, a clothing store.”
John from Langhorne disagrees, “It looks like it’s a big anchor store, so I’d say it’s a bad thing. Closing any stores at this time is not a good idea.”
Tiffany lives around the corner and agrees with John, “It would be a shame if it were just empty, we don’t need any more empty store fronts around here, we need to make use of the storefronts we have.”
Kmart’s parent company, Sears Holding Corp. made news recently announcing it will close its flagship store in Chicago, the company saying it’s trying to shift from brick-and-mortar retail to online sales.
A representative from the Gallery who says there aren’t any immediate plans to replace Kmart, but they could make an announcement by the Spring.