MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two rusted service vans are parked near the entrance like symbols of a retailer’s fall from favor.

St. Paul’s Sears department store has anchored a busy corner near the State Capitol since 1963. Suddenly, the store is living its last weekend. All merchandise has been discounted by 50 to 80 percent off retail.

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“I know it’s because of the internet and online shopping. I like brick and mortar,” longtime shopper, Carol Schwartzbauer, said.

So Schwartzbauer’s bargain hunting inside is bittersweet.

“I lived in the Midway area since 1983, and St. Paul since I was born. I watched the Wards come down, it’s sad, so sad,” she said.

Sears has been struggling with massive debt taken on from a 2008 leveraged buyout. But also reeling from the consumer’s changing shopping habits.

Combined, those factors are forcing Sears to close more than one-third of the chain’s 700 stores to navigate bankruptcy protection.

Walking into the store, Getinet Kidamemariam explained, “I bought my first warm jacket here, a lot of good memories.”

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Kidamemariam emigrated from Ethiopia back in 2003 and says Sears was the first store he shopped in. Years later he’d get a job working in the men’s department. On Friday, he stopped by for one final look.

“It’s really, really sad. Actually, I came to say goodbye and to pay my final tribute to the store,” Kidamemariam adds.

The store once housed the local Department of Motor Vehicles office, which recently relocated to a location along University Avenue.

A cruise through the store reveals shelves which are mostly bare, as bargain hunters scavenge racks of clothing and a few remaining Kenmore appliances.

“I came here looking for a refrigerator but they are all gone. Yea, it’s just a shell in there,” local entertainer, Sean Tillmann, said.

A shell of real estate soon to be prime for future redevelopment. But for the weekend at least, standing as a faded symbol of how Minnesota families once shopped.

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The two remaining Sears stores at Ridgedale and Mall of America are planned to close in March.