And then there was one. With Ellenton store closing, only one Kmart left in Manatee County

The 94,000-square-foot Kmart store that opened in 1993 at 6126 U.S. 301 in the North River Village shopping center was supposed to present a new image of the retail chain.

And it did for a while.

But the end of 2018 brought news that embattled Sears Holdings was closing 80 more Sears and Kmart stores by March, including the Kmart in Ellenton.

This week, the yellow-and-red store closing signs were prominently displayed at the store, announcing that “everything must go” and “nothing held back.”

The chain, famous for its “Attention, Kmart shoppers” announcements and blue-light specials, had once been a powerhouse in the retail business, but lost market share to newer big-box stores and internet sales.

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Sears Holdings has announced that it will be closing the Ellenton Kmart by March. A going-out-of-business sale is underway at the store. James A. Jones Jr.

When the Ellenton store closes, it would leave just one Kmart remaining in Manatee County — at 7350 Manatee Ave. W.

But even that seemed uncertain Tuesday, with CNBC reporting that Sears Holdings had rejected Chairman Eddie Lampert’s $4.4 billion offer to buy the company out of bankruptcy.

Unless Lampert can find another way forward, it could set Sears on the path to liquidation.

The Bradenton Sears store in the Midtown DeSoto Square has already liquidated most of its merchandise and is expected to close its doors this month.

The opening of the Ellenton Kmart in 1993 was greeted with great excitement.

Ellenton residents, who had been eagerly awaiting the opening, were mobbing the store, the parking lot was three-fourths full and cash registers were ringing, the Bradenton Herald reported in 1993.

“The first few days have been better than anticipated,’‘ store Manager Keith Von Glahn said.

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Before the Ellenton Kmart opened, residents of Colony Cove would charter buses twice a week to travel to Kmart’s Manatee Avenue West location, Von Glahn said.

“It’s very important,” said an Ellenton woman who was shopping with her husband in the new store’s women’s department at the 1993 opening. “We just like everything about Kmart.”