Sears has confirmed it will close its Prince of Orange Mall store on May 5.
“Until then, the store will remain open for customers,” Sears Holdings spokesperson Howard Riefs said. “The store will begin its liquidation sale on Feb. 15.”
Sears Holdings, which is also the parent company of Kmart, announced last year that it was closing about 120 stores across the nation, including Orangeburg’s Sears. There are no plans to close the Orangeburg Kmart.
“The store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” Riefs said. “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.”
The store employs 57.
Employees “will have an opportunity to apply for positions at other Kmart and Sears stores,” Riefs said.
Riefs said the store’s lease was not renewed.
Ky Widener, Hull Storey Gibson Companies LLC senior vice president of leasing, expressed his optimism about the Prince of Orange.
“Our firm still believes that better days are ahead for the Orangeburg retail market, and we are optimistic that a successful new replacement tenant will be recruited by the mall in the future,” Widener said in a prepared statement.
In a previous interview, Widener noted mall efforts would be geared toward bringing a Sears Hometown store to the mall.
Sears Hometown stores are generally about 10,000 square feet and sell appliances, consumer electronics and lawn and garden equipment.
Sears opened at the Prince of Orange Mall on Oct. 24, 1998, in a 90,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Walmart.
Bernard Dash says Sears has served him well over the years.
He has been in the construction industry for 40 years and recalls purchasing his first toolbox from Sears in Kentucky.
“I had that toolbox for 35 years,” he said. “I bought it in 1972. All those years. They have quality tools”
He says the Orangeburg Sears has also always been a favorite.
“It is a disappointment to me,” Dash said. “Where I am going to buy these tools? I will have to go and shop in Columbia.”
He also said losing one of the mall’s anchors is a “big let down.”
“It is a disappointment for the economy,” he said. “It is like cutting off a finger here.”
Despite the news, Dash said he is still optimistic that another store will quickly fill the vacancy.
“We live on hope,” he said.
Shopper Gloria Sprinkle said losing a store like Sears will be bad for the mall.
“It will slow traffic down because people would go to Sears and get things for lawn and garden and walk in the mall and pick something else up,” she said. “Now they will probably go to Lowes or Ace Hardware. It will cut down a lot.”
Gold Rush owner Rehen Hashmi, whose store is located in the same wing of the mall as Sears, says the closure concerns him greatly.
“It will be bad for business. Especially on our side, it is not good because a lot of traffic comes to Sears and in the meantime they come to my store,” Hashmi said.
When Sears closes, he will look to move his store closer to the front of the mall.
“It will cost, but if there is no traffic we will lose more money,” he said.
Santee resident Richard Strength said he shops at Sears about six times a year.
He believes the closure, “will probably cause prices to go up at some other places because of the lack of products.”
Traveling to Columbia is not cost effective, he said. “You spend about $15 worth of gas.”
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