One of St. Croix’s two Kmart stores is slated to close, according to a report by a retail consulting and asset acquisition firm.
SB360 Capital Partners posted on its website Tuesday that the Kmart at Sunshine Mall in Frederiksted is going to close along with five Sears stores located on the mainland.
An employee who answered the phone at the store on Tuesday afternoon said “No comment” when asked to confirm the report and hung up the phone.
Kmart, its parent Kmart Holding Company, and Sears are all subsidiaries of Sears Holdings, which was formed when Kmart merged with Sears after buying out the company for a reported $11 billion in 2004. Sears Holdings subsequently declared bankruptcy in 2018.
Transformco — the company created in February 2019 to acquire some of the assets of Sears Holdings — did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday, including whether and when the store will close, how many employees will be affected, and whether the store’s pharmacy will relocate to the Kmart in the Sunny Isle Shopping Center.
The Source also reached out to SB360 Capital Partners but received no reply.
Transformco, which is owned by Connecticut-based hedge fund ESL Investments, has been steadily closing stores since it purchased Sears Holdings. Only a handful of Kmarts now remain, including two on St. Thomas, two on St. Croix, one in Guam, and two on the U.S. mainland.
Rumors have been circulating for years that the territory’s Kmarts are slated to close, and resurfaced as shoppers faced rows of empty shelves during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many retailers faced supply-chain issues.
In 2017, Sears Holdings announced its “substantial doubt” that Kmart would survive, but didn’t show much concern for the four stores in the U.S. Virgin Islands because they were not facing imminent closure.
In 2019, the company denied a rumor of imminent closure that was circulating. At that time, Kmart hinted that corporate executives were working on a new plan to enhance the prospects for the future success of the chain. That has yet to be seen. Within a year, the store had seemingly continued to dwindle, and rumors continued to circulate about the fate of the retail chain in the territory.
Once numbering more than 2,000 stores that were known for their trademark Blue Light Specials, Kmart was ubiquitous in the United States. Its downfall has been blamed on years of falling sales attributed to changing shopping habits and the rise of Walmart, Target and Amazon, according to a report by Fortune on the onetime retail giant that was founded in 1962.
“Kmart was part of America,” Michael Lisicky, a Baltimore-based author who has written several books on U.S. retail history, told the magazine. “Everybody went to Kmart, whether you liked it or not. They had everything. You had toys. You had sporting goods. You had candy. You had stationery. It was something for everybody. This was almost as much of a social visit as it was a shopping visit. You could spend hours here. And these just dotted the American landscape over the years.”
Government House did not respond to phone calls seeking comment on the reported closure.