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Sears to shutter stores in state

Sears has announced plans to closelocations nationwide, including its McComb store, but theBrookhaven store remains safe.


    “I’m what’s called a dealer-owned store, a hometown store,” saidSid Sasser, owner of the Brookhaven Sears. “Hometown stores areprivately owned.”

    Sears on Thursday released a list of 79 Sears and Kmart storesplanned for closure nationwide. The McComb closure is one of threeSears slated to shut down in Mississippi. The other two are locatedin Leigh Mall in Columbus and in the Jackson Metrocenter.

    The company has said it could close up to 120 stores around thecountry. Since stores vary in format, Sears has said total affectedemployment cuts are not available. However, The Associated Presshas stated a typical Sears store like those slated to close employsbetween 40 and 80 associates.

    McComb’s Sears store referred all inquiries to national mediarepresentatives. Sears representatives could not be reached forcomment.

    A Thursday corporate press release cited lackluster holiday seasonsales and a “difficult economic environment” as the basis for theplanned closures.

    Sears in McComb is located in Edgewood Mall, and mallrepresentatives could not be reached for comment as to whether theyplanned to ask Sears to reconsider the closure. Besides Sears, theother Edgewater anchor stores are J.C. Penney and Belk.

    Cliff Brumfield, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerceexecutive vice president, doesn’t see much potential for negativeimpact in the immediate area from the closures.

    “I hate to see the loss of jobs but don’t foresee any impact inLincoln County,” Brumfield said. “There’s nothing there (localresidents) can’t purchase in Brookhaven.”

    Brumfield believes that despite weak sales for company-owned Searsstores like the ones in McComb, Columbus and Jackson, the locallyowned hometown stores have a niche that will allow them to staystrong.

    “The trend is the stores have been strong that specialize,”Brumfield said.

    Sasser said the hometown stores sell merchandise that Searsprovides and operate on commission. Hometown stores have a morelimited range of products than the larger stores. Sasser said theydo not stock clothing, jewelry and do not have as large a selectionof electronics.

    Despite lacking a full range of electronics, Sasser saidelectronics do make up a large part of his business, particularlytelevisions.

    Even with the company’s decision to shutter the mall store, Sasserbelieves McComb probably won’t stay without a Sears of somekind.

    “I think someone would open a hometown store in McComb,” Sassersaid.

    However, he indicated that by the time a potential owner madeapplication for a hometown store and made the needed arrangements,six months or more could elapse in which McComb would be without aSears location.

    Sasser said he has heard mixed reports of how bad Sears’ financesare right now.

    “Some analysts think it’s the first of a downhill slide and othersthink it’s just a blip,” Sasser said.

    Sears reported in its press release that the nationwide storeclosures are expected to generate $140 to $170 million in cash.

    According to The Associated Press, the projected closures reflectabout 3 percent of Sears’ U.S. stores. Sears and Kmart merged in2005 and currently have about 3,560 stores in the U.S. That numberis up from 3,500 immediately after the merger.