The Bradenton area’s last Kmart store did not survive the latest round of store closures announced by Transformco, which purchased Sears Holdings LLC out of bankruptcy earlier this year.
The company has been announcing a steady stream of closures around the country since assuming the helm of the Sears and Kmart brands.
Bradenton employees at the Kmart located at 7350 Manatee Ave. W. say they got the word on Wednesday morning that as of February, the store will no longer exist after decades in business.
Bound by strict company policies about speaking to the media, most employees declined to speak to the Bradenton Herald on Friday morning
“Morale is pretty low,” said an employee who asked not to be identified. “There is a good group of people here and some have been here for more than 30 years. It’s upsetting to find out you’ll be out of a job when it’s all you’ve known.”
Kmart’s corporate media relations did not immediately return a request for comment as to the number of employees who will lose their jobs in February.
According to USA Today, Sears and Kmart have been on a steady decline over the past 15 years, closing 3,500 stores and cutting about 250,000 jobs.
In this latest round of closures, 51 Sears stores and 45 Kmart stores will be shuttered for good, leaving the company with just 182 stores.
The Sears that anchored the Desoto Square Mall initially survived several rounds of store closings, but it ultimately was shuttered at the end of 2018.
Three Sears locations are due to close in Florida. They are in Fort Myers, Hialeah and Miami. Besides the store in Bradenton, Kmarts in Hollywood and Lantana also will close
The Bradenton Kmart has not yet posted the impending closure at the store, but customers are being told they will no longer have a layaway program as the holiday season approaches.
The store is already conducting sales ahead of a planned liquidation sale beginning in early December.
“There’s been a rumor for awhile now,” the employee said. “It’s just been a waiting game and now the waiting is over.”