Sears to close its last Albuquerque store

NEW YORK – Sears announced it will be closing its store in Coronado Center, along with 141 other unprofitable stores, as it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Monday.

The retailer earlier this year announced it was closing its Cottonwood Mall store, and its Kmart at Carlisle and Interstate 40 in Albuquerque. The Coronado Center store, the last in Albuquerque, was listed among the latest round of closures in the Chapter 11 filings.

Sears opened its first Albuquerque retail store on West Central Avenue on July 22, 1937. An article in the Albuquerque Journal previewing the opening noted that the store would have a frontage of 60 feet on Central and a floor area of 29,160 square feet.

This full-page ad appeared in the July 22, 1937, edition of the Albuquerque Journal, announcing the opening of a new store.

“We have faith in this city, this state and their future, and confidence in the prospect for success of our new enterprise here,” store manager A.K. Wheeler said in the Journal article.

The question now is whether a smaller version of the company can suvive. Sears, which started as a mail order catalog in the 1880s, has been on a slow march toward extinction as it lagged far behind its peers and incurred huge losses over the years.

“This is a company that in the 1950s stood like a colossus over the American retail landscape,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy. “Hopefully, a smaller new Sears will be healthier.”

Others don’t share Johnson’s optimism.

“That a storied retailer, once at the pinnacle of the industry, should collapse in such a shabby state of disarray is both terrible and scandalous in equal measure,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, in a note published Monday. “In our view, too much rot has set in at Sears to make it a viable business.”

The company has struggled with outdated stores and complaints about customer service even for its once-crown jewels: major appliances such as washers and dryers. That’s in contrast with chains like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Macy’s, which have been enjoying stronger sales as they benefit from a robust economy and efforts to make the shopping experience more inviting by investing heavily in remodeling and de-cluttering their stores.

The Amazon of its day, Sears’ woes were years in the making

Sears Holdings, which operates both Sears and Kmart stores, will close the 142 stores near the end of the year, and liquidation sales are expected to begin shortly. That’s in addition to the closure of 46 unprofitable stores that had already been announced.

Edward S. Lampert, the company’s largest shareholder, has stepped down as CEO but will remain chairman of the board. A new Office of the CEO will be responsible for managing day-to-day operations.

The company said Monday that it has secured $300 million in financing from banks to keep operations going through bankruptcy. It’s negotiating an additional $300 million loan from Lampert’s ESL Investments hedge fund.

Sears joins a growing list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidated in the past few years amid a fiercely competitive climate.

Sears 2018 bankruptcy proposal by on Scribd

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