By TRAVIS MORSE
MT. VERNON — — The Sears store at Times Square Mall in Mt. Vernon will officially close its doors Sept. 8.
A company official confirmed Thursday the giant retailer made a decision to not renew its lease with Sansone Group, owners of the mall.
The store opened in September 1980 and the closure will affect 68 employees. These individuals will be given the chance to apply for positions at other Kmart and Sears stores, according to a written statement from Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Sears Holdings.
“As a part of the ordinary course of business, we close stores for a variety of reasons,” Riefs said in the statement. “The store closures are part of a series of actions we're taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model. These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail – at the store, online and in the home.”
Local Sears officials declined to comment other than to confirm the Sept. 8 closing date. Until that time, the local store and auto center will remain open. The store will begin its liquidation sale June 21.
Times Square Mall Manager Bethany Benjamin also declined to comment, referring all questions to the mall's corporate office in St. Louis.
Messages left at the corporate office in St. Louis were not returned by deadline.
Riefs said there are no additional Sears or Kmart closures planned for the Southern Illinois region.
Sears Holdings Corporation has over 2,500 full-line and specialty retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, according to its website. It operates through subsidiaries, including Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart Corporation. Sears sells home appliances, tools, lawn and garden equipment, fitness equipment and more.