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Sears to say goodbye to Rock Hill Galleria, weeks after news of Kmart store closing

Can retail be rescued? Why so many U.S. stores are closing

Stores that have been staples of the American shopping tradition for decades are closing in large numbers. Take a closer look at the reasons why it’s so hard for retailers to stay open.
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Stores that have been staples of the American shopping tradition for decades are closing in large numbers. Take a closer look at the reasons why it’s so hard for retailers to stay open.

One of Rock Hill Galleria’s anchor retailers is closing up shop after all.

Sears Holdings informed associates at 40 of its Sears and Kmart stores nationwide on Thursday that those sites will be closing in February.

The closings include the Sears store on Dave Lyle Boulevard in Rock Hill at the Rock Hill Galleria.

The accompanying auto stores at those sites will close, too.

Liquidation begins next week.

The Rock Hill Sears was one of only two Carolinas locations on the latest list, joining a store in Winston Salem, N.C.

In mid-October, the company announced the Kmart on Cherry Road in Rock Hill would close “near the end” of 2018. The moves are part of hundreds of Sears and Kmart stores that are closing, as Sears Holdings works through bankruptcy proceedings.

The Kmart site already has been sold to a Charlotte-based apartment and self-storage group, Madison Capital.

The Kmart site sold for $6 million.

The nearest remaining Sears stores after the Rock Hill closing will be an outlet in Charlotte and a showroom in Huntersville, N.C.

Sears has been an anchor store at Galleria since the mall opened in 1991. It joined JCPenney and Belk as former Rock Hill Mall anchors that made the move to Galleria. The Rock Hill Mall site on Cherry Road was built in the 1960s.

Online site searsarchives.com notes the company opened a Rock Hill store in 1968. The site puts the company in Charlotte as far back as 1929.

Efforts to obtain comment from mall management on the future of the Sears location were unsuccessful.

Warren Norman, development director and broker in charge with the Warren Norman Co., said the Sears closing may not be bad news for the Rock Hill retail market, or even for the Galleria.

“I actually kind of view this as a good thing,” he said. “It’s probably going to allow some change to the mall, for the good.”

Norman’s company doesn’t own the mall, but has developed several large commercial projects around it. The Sears closing says more about the retailer itself, he said, than about Rock Hill.

“I don’t really think that what you’re seeing with large retailers and closings has much to do with our market,” Norman said. “You’re seeing that all across the country.”

Along with Sears and Kmart, retailers like JCPenney, Belk, Macy’s, Sam’s Club, Lowe’s and others have closed stores in recent years. While not everyone in the development industry agrees on its future, Norman said, it appears the trend will be stores with smaller footprints as more shoppers go online.

“It’s not needed like it used to be to have that much floor space,” he said.

As long as people want to touch products before they buy them, Norman said, there will be a place for retail. There also is a growing place for service businesses, hotels and restaurants.

“We’ve continued to develop around the mall,” Norman said. “As the infrastructure continues to get put in place, roads are put in place, the area around the mall will continue to grow up.”

John Marks: jmarks@fortmilltimes.com
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