By Mary McGuire

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A fixture on the north side of Mall of America, the Bloomington Sears store had managed to survive several rounds of closures until now.

On Friday, the company announced 80 Sears and Kmart stores will close in the new year. That’s in addition to more than 200 stores already slated to close. It’s sad news for loyal customers.

“One of the houses I lived in here in Minneapolis was a Sears-Roebuck house,” said Erik Scheurle, of Minneapolis.

“Half of my dad’s tools and his dad’s tools were from Sears,” said John Vonhof, of Minneapolis.

In its hay day, Sears was the largest retailer on the globe, pioneering things like catalogs and mail orders, but the 130-year-old company has long struggled against obstacles like the recession and online sales.

Although Sears has had a long history at MOA, retail expert and University of Minnesota Professor George John doesn’t think the closure will have a big impact there.

“It seems very cruel and harsh to say it doesn’t matter, but that’s the sad reality of it,” John said.

The mall draws in 42 million visitors each year and features much more than just department stores.

“The Mall of America is so unique. It’s a destination mall. They rely on local traffic, but they also rely on people who have a reason to come in and visit them,” John said. “It’s been a long time since Sears was a reason to visit the mall.”

A Mall of America spokesperson issued the following statement to WCCO-TV on Friday, which reads in part:

“While change can be difficult, we are very excited for the future of our destination, as well as this specific opportunity at this world-class property,” the statement reads. “Mall of America has been provided with a great chance to transform this premier space in to something that will exceed the expectations of our millions of annual guests.”

As for the future of the large space —

“My prediction is they will carve it up into smaller bits because that’s the trend in malls,” said John.

Liquidation sales at the stores that will close are expected to begin in two weeks.

The last day for the Mall of America store is expected to be sometime in late March.

The Rochester, Minnesota, Kmart is also a part of this round of closures.

Mary McGuire

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