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Marion Sears to close in spring; West Frankfort, Mt. Vernon Kmarts also to be shut

  • The mall entrance to Sears from inside the Illinois Star Centre Mall.

    The mall entrance to Sears from inside the Illinois Star Centre Mall.
    John D. Homan/Marion Republican

  • Briana Julian of West Frankfort and Austin Erthall of Ewing doing some shopping at Sears Thursday evening. Erthall said he will definitely miss Sears. "I'm not sure how much longer any of these stores here at the mall will stay open," he added.

    Briana Julian of West Frankfort and Austin Erthall of Ewing doing some shopping at Sears Thursday evening. Erthall said he will definitely miss Sears. "I'm not sure how much longer any of these stores here at the mall will stay open," he added.
    John D. Homan/Marion Republican

 
 
updated: 1/8/2018 7:41 PM

The Marion Sears store, one of the anchors of the struggling Illinois Star Centre Mall, is among 100 stores the Sears Holdings Corp. will close this spring as the department store chain tries to turn around its business.

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company says the closures include 64 Kmart stores -- two of them in West Frankfort and Mount Vernon. All the stores will close in early April.

The Sears store in Evansville, Indiana is also among the victims.

Liquidation sales are expected to begin as soon as next Friday at the stores.

A Sears spokesman told The Associated Press on Thursday the number of workers affected was not available. The majority of the jobs are part-time positions, Sears said.

The move comes in addition to closing about 250 stores announced last year.

Melonie Motsinger of Harrisburg was in Sears Thursday evening.

"I'm here tonight to cancel the mattress I just bought," she said, "because if we don't like it, where are we going to return it?"

Motsinger said she and her husband, Mike, have bought eyeglasses, appliances and tools at the Marion Sears store for years.

"It's going to be an inconvenience not having them here," she said. "It will certainly be a blow to this mall. We will survive as a region without it, but it will be missed."

Mike Motsinger has bought a wide array of Craftsman tools from Sears over the years, including power saws and drills.

"I guess I will have to go to Menard's or Home Depot now," he said.

Marion city finance Commissioner Anthony Rinella said he was sad to hear the store will close.

"But it's nothing that surprised any of us on the city council," he said. "We've been watching the demise of the mall, and particularly Sears, for some time now. We were surprised Marion survived the cut last year.

"It's a real shame. Anytime you lose jobs that people rely upon, it's a bad thing. Our thoughts go out to those folks who will be facing unemployment in the future."

Rinella said the mall spurred economic growth for the city when it opened in 1991. And that can never be understated.

"Unfortunately, the mall didn't continue to grow with everything that grew up around it," he said. "I think buying out Kmart finally caught up with Sears."

Briana Julian of West Frankfort and her boyfriend, Austin Erthall, of Ewing, were among the few shoppers in Sears Thursday night.

"My family has shopped here quite a bit for clothes and kids' toys, mostly online, and we have done a lot of in-store pickups," Julian said.

"I guess we won't have that anymore. It was kind of a shock when I first heard the news. And we won't have Kmart in West Frankfort either."

Erthall said he will definitely miss Sears.

"I'm not sure how much longer any of these stores here at the mall will stay open," he added.

"Most of them have closed already."

Sears was among the original tenants when the Illinois Centre Mall opened in 1991, moving its southern Illinois store from the University Mall in Carbondale to Marion.

The mall's name was changed to Illinois Star Centre Mall in 2011 when Sabre ISC acquired it, by buying delinquent tax certificates.

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition was filed in May by Illinois Star Centre LLC.