V.I. Kmarts Slated for Survival

Shoppers at kmart, Tutu Park

The first month of 2019 has been brutal in bankruptcy court for Sears Holdings Co. But among the 838 legal motions, notices, requests for and submissions of financial status, there are just three notices of store closures.

None of them have anything to do with Sears Holdings stores in the U.S. Virgin Islands despite rumors circulating locally that those stores — known to all as Kmart — are ready to close.

According to one reliable source, the most recent rumblings point towards one of the two Kmart stores on St. Thomas closing. But two other sources, also reliable, say it isn’t so.

Myrna Green, property manager for Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center says her Kmart tenant is staying put. Green said landlord Lockhart Corp. is aware of the Sears Holdings bankruptcy case, but is hoping for the best.

Store manager Kevin Bryan agrees. Although the details are not completely available, Bryan said store managers in the V.I. keep track of developments in federal bankruptcy court, Southern District of New York.

Those proceedings are made to satisfy the demands of dozens of plaintiffs who have filed claims against the former U.S. retail giant.

A few weeks after Sears Holdings and Kmart Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October, board chairman Eddie Lampert made a bid for ownership of the most profitable Kmarts. The first bid, in late December, failed but a second bid for $52 billion was accepted on Jan. 17.

That, according to an article in Bloomberg Business Week, helped to save the more profitable stores, and jobs for 50,000 workers.

Kmart Tutu Park has been described as the second most profitable. The profit leader in the chain can be found in the U.S. territory of Guam.

Not as fortunate this month were Kmart stores that had a notice of sale entered by lawyers representing Sears. They include stores in Tolleson, Arizona and Lithonia, Georgia.

Statements of financial affairs were also filed with the court for non-individual stores in Washington, Illinois, Texas and Michigan.

Bryan hinted that corporate executives are working on a new plan to enhance the prospects for future success. “We are one of the go forward stores when the plan goes forward,” he said.

So are Kmarts at Sunny Isle and Golden Rock on St. Croix, the St. Thomas store manager said.