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Tampa Bay’s last Kmart will close in January

The Kenneth City store near St. Petersburg opened in 1970.

KENNETH CITY — The Tampa Bay region’s last remaining Kmart will close its doors after this holiday shopping season, the chain confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times on Monday.

The store had been open since 1970.

The Kmart on 66th Street N is among dozens of other Kmart and affiliated Sears stores expected to close, as a new parent company struggles to turn the retailers around.

In late August, Sears and Kmart’s parent company, Transformco, filed notice it would lay off 250 corporate employees. Then came news nearly 100 Kmart and Sears stores would close by the end of 2019.

RELATED: On Black Friday 2018, Kmart loyalists celebrated at Tampa Bay’s last location

It appeared Tampa Bay’s remaining Kmart would be spared — like it has been so many times during several mass closures over the decade. That was until late last month when store employees began telling shoppers it would close in the new year.

“After careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Kmart store in St. Petersburg, Florida,” Transformco said in statement. “The liquidation sale began last month and the store is planned to close by early January.”

In October of last year, Sears Holdings Corp. filed for bankruptcy and closed hundreds of locations as it attempted to restructure. In February, former CEO Eddie Lampert struck a last-minute deal to buy the remaining Sears and Kmart assets under a new company, Transformco.

In an August statement, the company said its goal was to "return the company to profitability and preserve as many jobs as possible in the communities we serve.”

The Kenneth City store, sandwiched between St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park, had been operating as a retail store and online delivery hub. At the chain’s peak, there were more than 150 Kmarts in the state.

During the holiday season last year, 15 remained. Now, according to reporting by USA Today and Transformco notices, Florida will soon have no more than eight locations.

Troubled shoppers have taken to social media. One, Fred Hansen, commented on Kmart’s corporate page:

“I drove over an hour out of my way to the St. Petersburg Kmart to get a few more pairs of Diehard work pants and other things only to be told that this location will be gone forever in January 2020," he wrote, “marking the last official Kmart or Sears for that matter anywhere near my vicinity.”

The nearest Kmart to Tampa Bay will soon be across the Sunshine Skyway bridge in Bradenton.