ST. PETERSBURG — Nancy Hoff made a couple of great buys at Big Kmart at 2800 34th St. N last week. She picked up a few pairs of shorts and T-shirts and some other summer clothes for her son. "It's a shame this place has to close," she said.
Hoff, 48, who said she has been shopping at the store for 15 years, said her husband was devastated because he wouldn't be able to get his fishing supplies.
By May 24, both that store and the one at 3951 34th St. S will close, leaving South Pinellas with only one Kmart, the one at 4501 66th St. N in Kenneth City.
The shelves in both stores are spartan, with not much merchandise to show. Most shoppers coming out were buying clothes, as well as a few home appliances. Yellow tape marked off the areas that have already been cleared. The stores, owned by the Sears Holdings Corp., are just the latest in a string of cutbacks.
They come on the heels of closures in Clearwater and Sarasota and reflects the rough times nationally for the Kmart name.
In January, the Sears Essentials owned by the same company at 9500 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N shut its doors.
The company announced 28 stores would close nationally last fall and in late February announced an additional 24 would be shut down.
Kim Freely, a spokeswoman for Sears Holding Corp., said both stores were closed as a result of poor performance.
The store at 34th Street N opened in 1980, the location at 34th Street S opened in 1973. At the time, the store on 34th Street S was opened amid clamor for more retail outlets for apartment dwellers in that region of the city. The stores were considered novelties, larger in size than an average department store in a largely residential area. Both stores currently have about 50 employees and are about 100,000 square feet.
Shoppers poured into both locations last week trying to find last- minute sales.
Lenton Hall, 68, came in to get a deal on a wallet. "I had no idea they were going to shut down,'' he said. "I'm disappointed."
Austin Bogues can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727)893-8872.