LIHUE — The Lihue Kmart only has about four months left before it closes for good, according to a Thursday decision by owner Sears Holdings Corporation.
The store, which opened in 1994, is one of 72 stores scheduled to close in early September.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to streamline the company’s operations and focus on our best stores, we have identified approximately 100 non-profitable stores,” Sears Holdings Corp. said in a statement. “We continue to evaluate our network of stores and will make further adjustments as needed or warranted.”
A spokesman said the number of employees affected by the closure isn’t yet available.
Shoppers leaving Kmart on Thursday expressed disappointment that the store is closing and wondered what it means for the next-door Kukui Grove Center.
“It’s sad. It’s so close, I live just up the street,” Maile Deguchi. “Who knows what they’ll put in there (after Kmart is gone), maybe a Target?”
The longtime Kmart shopper said she thinks the rise of online shopping has had a hand in the store closure.
“You can get stuff off Amazon for cheaper, sometimes,” Deguchi said. “We buy things online.”
On-island, Deguchi and her family bounce between Walmart and Kmart for clothing, toys, and household items.
“Walmart has lower prices, so there are some things I know that both of them carry and I’ll go to Walmart instead,” Deguchi said. “But, there’s better selection here (at Kmart) for clothes and toys. We bought a toys for my nephew’s birthday last night.”
Sears has closed five Kmart stores in Hawaii in the past two years, leaving only the Lihue Kmart and the Kailua-Kona location on Hawaii Island.
The closure of the Hawaii Island Kmart was announced and the liquidation process initiated last week, and the closure of the Lihue Kmart will end the retailer’s reign in Hawaii.
Sears Holdings representatives pointed customers to other Sears and Kmart locations to continue their shopping and employees in the same direction for continued work with the company.
“Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will received severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores,” Sears representatives said.
While there are Sears locations on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, there are none on Kauai.
Kmart, known for its blue light sales, saw sales fall 11.9 percent during the first quarter of 2018, with total revenues coming in at $2.9 billion compared to revenues of $4.2 billion in the first quarter of 2017.
About two-thirds of that decline is attributed to nationwide store closures.
“In a challenging quarter, we continued to focus on our strategic transformation, identifying additional opportunities to streamline operations and adjust inventory and operating expenses,” said Edward Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings.
Looking forward, Lampert said Sears Holdings is exploring smaller store formats that will “blend brick and mortar and online experiences.”
“We believe these initiatives, among others, will help us strengthen the Company and better position it for the future,” he said.
Jessica Else, enviromnental reporter,can be reached at 245-0452 or at email@example.com.