The last Sears in the area is closing

Illustration by Jordan Sellegren

On Thursday, Sears announced it will close its store at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids. That store is the last Sears in the entire Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.

According to a statement issued by the company, which now operates under the name Sears Holdings Company:

Seritage Growth Properties is recapturing this Sears store as part of an agreement reached in 2015 between Seritage and Sears Holdings. As a result, the store will close in mid-July 2018. As you may recall, SHC sold 265 Sears and Kmart store locations to Seritage Growth Properties as part of an agreement in which Sears Holdings leases the stores back from Seritage. The store will remain open for customers in the meantime and will begin its liquidation sales by April 27.

New York-based Seritage is a real estate company, specializing in commercial properties in multi-tenant shopping centers.

Sears is one of the three anchor stores at Lindale Mall, and helped create the mall in collaboration with Younkers, another of the anchors. In 1956, the two department store chains unveiled plans to create an open-air shopping mall called Lindale Plaza in Cedar Rapids. At the time, the parcel of land for the mall on 1st Ave NE was zoned residential, and merchants in downtown Cedar Rapids bitterly opposed the request by Sears and Younkers to rezone it as commercial. That opposition was eventually overcome, and in September 1960, the mall opened, with Sears and Younkers as the anchor stores.

Sears was once one of the dominant forces in retail in the United States, selling everything from socks to entire ready-to-assemble houses. (The DIY houses were sold between 1908 and 1940, and the mail-order catalogue for Sears in the early 1900s assured customers “a man of average abilities could assemble a Sears kit home in about 90 days.”) But the retailer has faced a sharp and steady decline since the 1990s, as Walmart expanded and shopping started to move online. Between 2007 and 2017, the company’s revenue declined by 50 percent and announcements of multiple store closings have become routine.

In 2005, Sears attempted to increase its retail reach in order to compete with Walmart by purchasing the bankrupt chain store Kmart, and restructuring itself as Sears Holdings Company. That strategy proved unsuccessful, and the area lost its last Kmart when the Iowa City store closed last year.

It was also announced on Thursday that the last Sears in Chicago, the city where the company was founded in 1886, will close in mid-July.

After the Lindale Sears closes, Younkers will be the only remaining original store at the mall.

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