Sears to close Lawrence store

After 13 years in business, the full-line Sears store in Lawrence will close its doors.

The local store, at 2727 Iowa, is one of 79 Sears and Kmart stores across the country that Sears Holding Corp. slated for closure on Thursday. The announcement came two days after the company said a slow holiday season and other economic factors would force the closure of 100 to 120 stores across the country.

Kimberly Freely, spokeswoman for Sears Holding Corp., said the company closed stores in underperforming locations. The closing dates haven’t been set and would depend on liquidation needs, city regulations and lease dates.

Officials at the Lawrence Sears store wouldn’t comment.

On Thursday evening, the parking lot in front of Sears had about a dozen cars and customers were still filtering in and out.

Tracy Ewy had come from Eudora to shop for appliances and was disappointed to hear the store was closing.

“I don’t shop here a lot. But it’s nice having choices for appliances. There are not a lot of options in Lawrence,” she said.

The Lawrence store is the only one in Kansas selected to close. Another Sears store in Lee’s Summit, Mo., was on the list. No Kmarts in the region were selected.

As for the employees, Freely said those who qualify would be offered severance packages. And, closer to the closing date, workers will be notified of job openings in nearby Sears and Kmart stores, although they would have to apply for those jobs.

Sears, in one form or another, has a lengthy history in Lawrence.

In 1965, a Sears catalog store moved from 13 E. Ninth St. to a new 10,000-square-foot store at the Hillcrest Shopping Center at Ninth and Iowa. In 1993, that store closed along with 100 other Sears catalog and small retail stores.

A year later, a new Sears appliance, electronics and lawn and garden store opened at 2108 W. 27th St. That store closed when the full-line Sears opened in 1998 at its current location.

The 60,000-square-foot building, which is leased by Sears, once housed the city’s first Walmart and later a Half-Price Store. Six years after it opened, the store underwent a $405,000 remodel.

Kelly Whitehouse, who visits the Lawrence store six to eight times a year, wasn’t happy with the news.

“We use it for tools and appliances. It’s a convenience. That is the bad thing,” Whitehouse said.

Thursday evening was probably the first time Jerree Catlin had visited the store in Lawrence. She was with her husband searching for a Nordic Track.

“Still, I hate to see anything like this move out of town,” Catlin said.

Even those who were sad to see it go said they weren’t surprised by the news, commenting that the store often doesn’t appear to be busy.

“When I come here there are not always a lot of cars,” Ewy said.