Sears

This Sears, located at the Port Charlotte Town Center mall, 1441 Tamiami Trail, will close by March along with 80 other Sears and Kmart stores nationwide.

Sears has been saved from bankruptcy, but our local store is still shutting its doors.

The Sears store at the Port Charlotte Town Center mall is currently liquidating its inventory and will close next month as originally scheduled, said mall spokesperson John Scherlacher.

Eighty Kmart and Sears stores nationwide, including four Sears in Daytona Beach, Tallahassee, Tampa and Port Richie, as well as a Kmart on Beneva Road in Sarasota, were also slated for the axe, the company announced in late December. This includes accompanying Sears Auto Centers.

The future of the 88,000-square-foot space is still up in the air, but Scherlacher said the mall’s parent company, Washington Prime Group, is in active planning and negotiations to transform the space.

“We think outside the box,” Scherlacher said. “It could be retail, it could be non-retail. It could be anything really.”

“The redevelopment opportunity at Port Charlotte Town Center demonstrates our commitment to the community,” Washington Prime Group said in a statement, “while illustrating our mandate to diversify tenancy, elevate the shopper experience and strengthen Port Charlotte Town Center as the dominant town center within the area.”

“Washington Prime Group is currently exploring big box retail uses for the space,” they said, “and it’s premature to comment on timing of the redevelopment opportunity.”

The space currently does not have any bidders, Scherlacher said.

This Sears was one of the mall’s original anchor stores when it first opened in 1989, Scherlacher said, and is the third-largest space in the mall, after Dillard’s and Bealls.

The company itself was saved thanks to ESL Investments, Inc., a private hedge fund owned by Sears’ Chairman and ex-CEO Eddie Lampert.

The $5.2 billion bid in a bankruptcy court-supervised auction Jan. 17 means the fund will acquire almost all of the company’s assets, preserving 45,000 jobs and 425 Sears and Kmart stores.

This was the only bid submitted to save the company, the Associated Press reported. Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the bid Feb. 1.

The company filed for bankruptcy Oct. 15. It is unresolved which company, ESL or Sears, will have to pay the $166 million owed for inventory received after filing for bankruptcy.

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