Kmart delays closing date

Company is mum about another retailer moving in

Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2003

Kmart still plans to close its store in Juneau, but not by March 14, the closing date the company announced in January, store manager Debbie Saddler said.

"It's definitely not going to be mid-March," said Saddler. "It will be after that, but beyond that I can't say. When things are gone, we'll be gone."

Kmart announced the closure of 326 stores nationwide, including its five stores in Alaska, in January.

Juneau real estate agents said no concrete plans have been made for a new retailer buying the building from Kmart Corp.

"What I've heard is there's a lot of talk on the corporate level with the Kmart Corp. and lots of buyers," said PeggyAnn McConnochie, owner of ACH Consulting, a commercial real estate consulting company. "I can't say anything more than that."

Juneau's Super Kmart employs about 160 people, none of whom have been laid off since the announcement.

"I've actually been hiring," Saddler said. "There's a lot of work to be done with this kind of a project."

Saddler has hired replacements for about six employees who have left Kmart for new jobs, she said.

The store began liquidating its inventory immediately following the announcement of the closure.

"We've done a good job, our sales have been really good," Saddler said. Kmart Corp. sent two liquidators to Juneau to set prices and oversee the store closure.

The meat and produce departments, as well as the pharmacy and restaurant, have closed. All prescriptions at the pharmacy have been transferred to Fred Meyer, Saddler said.

"As a matter of fact, if you were to call my pharmacy line it would automatically direct you to Fred Meyer," she said.

Cooler-shelves that once held meat now contain flatware and vacuums.

Merchandise in the store is at least 10 percent to 30 percent off, according to advertisements. Alcohol, tobacco, milk and eggs are excluded from the discounts.

Although no new merchandise has been ordered since the closing announcement, some stock has been replenished by orders placed before January.

"We did have merchandise that came in right before the announcement and a little after that, and we're putting that out now," Saddler said.

The store no longer accepts personal checks, and all sales are final. Checks from the federal Women, Infants and Children program, which supplements the food budgets of mothers and children in poverty, also are no longer accepted at the store.

Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.



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