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Platteville Kmart to close in March
Kmart in Platteville will close March 19. A clearance sale is now under way. - photo by Photo by Ann Rupp

Sears Holdings is closing its Kmart store at 1425 E. Business 151 in Platteville.

The store, which opened in 1981, is one of 150 Sears and Kmart stores — about 10 percent of the company’s stores — scheduled to close by April, according to Business Insider. The Platteville Kmart store is scheduled to close March 19, according to media reports.  

The Platteville Kmart manager referred media calls to Sears Holdings, whose website had a statement that said: “The decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step as we take actions to strengthen the company’s operations and fund its transformation. Many of these stores have struggled with their financial performance for years and we have kept them open to maintain local jobs and in the hopes that they would turn around.

But in order to meet our objective of returning to profitability, we have to make tough decisions and will continue to do so, which will give our better performing stores a chance at success.”

Sears Holdings officials did not return inquiries from The Journal.

“When I first heard that I was absolutely shocked,” said Platteville Regional Chamber executive director Kathy Kopp. “That rumor’s been out there for a number of years, and everything we’d always heard was that the Platteville store was doing fine. That was nothing short of a shock when the news came out last week.”

One group of Sears and Kmart store closings was announced Dec. 27, and the remainder of closings of what a Sears Holdings news release called “non-profitable” stores was announced Wednesday. Sears closed 140 Kmart stores and 30 Sears stores in 2016.

The 9.8-acre property is owned by Seritage KMT Finance LLC of Hoffman Estates, Ill. The property is assessed at $4.4 million, with annual property taxes of $94,317, according to City of Platteville records.

“Part of what’s disappointing is it’s a large retailer, and that is going to leave a large hole,” said Kopp. “It’s going to be challenging to find a retailer to fill that space. We are a retail hub for this area, and to lose one of the corporate stores is going to hurt.”

Kopp said a tactical team has not been set up as when Advance Transformer closed in Platteville, but “the support and resources are here. We’re just waiting to hear what management needs. … We will do whatever we can.”

Also closing are the Kmart store on Dodge Street in Dubuque and Kmarts in Racine and Sioux City and Waterloo, Iowa.

The first Platteville Kmart opened at 1525 E. Business 151 in 1981. Kmart then purchased the former Mound View Motel in 1993 to build a bigger store at 1425 E. Business 151 when the larger Mound View Inn was built at 1755 E. Business 151. 

The store was rebranded as Big K in 1999.

The original Kmart site was subleased to Penda Corp., a plastics company, for a new facility, in 1996, but Penda decided against expanding into Platteville.  Ashley Furniture moved into the original Kmart site in 2004.

Sears merged with Kmart in 2004, two years after Kmart declared Chapter 11 reorganization. Sears purchased Lands’ End in Dodgeville in 2002 and spun it off in 2014. Sears Holdings lost $1.129 billion in its 2015 fiscal year.

Sears Holdings last week also announced the sale of its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker and announced in May it would “explore alternatives” for its Kenmore appliance and Diehard battery brands.