Kmart acquires Sears | CraigDailyPress.com

Kmart acquires Sears

Residents hope merger improves product options

Rob Gebhart

While returning a video game at Kmart on Wednesday afternoon, Christopher Skowronski was surprised to hear the chain had acquired Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Like many people in Craig, Skowronski welcomed the news.

The new company formed by the merger, Sears Holding Corp., announced the deal Wednesday morning. The merger creates the third-largest retailer in the nation.

What the deal means for Craig’s Kmart has yet to be determined. In a press release, the new company, Sears Holding Corp., said it would continue to operate the stores under their current names, though some locations may switch from one store to the other or close.

Shoppers, Kmart employees and other Craig retailers welcomed the announcement, assuming the Craig Kmart remains open.

“It would definitely improve it,” Aubrey Ripkoski, a front-end supervisor at Kmart, said.

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Shoppers often come to the store asking for items Kmart doesn’t offer, she said.

By expanding to offer Sears merchandise, the store might be able to accommodate those customers.

“It would improve Kmart,” Skowronski said. “A lot of people would like another option for shopping.”

The stores will feature a home appliance franchise as well as strong positions in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics and automotive repair and maintenance, according to press releases.

Parish Terry, owner of Guts Gear in downtown Craig, said he doesn’t see Kmart as competition, and his opinion won’t change as the store joins with Sears.

“I don’t look at it is a setback,” Terry said.

Terry thinks more businesses equal more consumers.

A Kmart with a Sears line of merchandise could bring shoppers from across the area, and that would benefit all local retailers.

Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership Director Tom Flavin said it’s difficult to make predictions about the retail industry.

If Kmart were to close, it would have an obvious effect from a jobs and sales tax standpoint.

Kmart is not a member of the EDP or the Craig Chamber of Commerce.

“My experience is often times getting through corporate hierarchy of these companies is never easy, but we certainly haven’t given up on them,” Flavin said.

The merger is expected to close by the end of March 2005, subject to shareholder approval. Sears Holding Corp. will own 3,500 stores across the United States.

Kmart’s general manager did not return phone calls from the Daily Press. Kmart corporate headquarters could not be reached for comment.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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