Earlier this week, Transformco, owner of Sears and Kmart, announced plans to close 96 stores, including the Sidney Kmart at 171 Delaware Ave.
According to a Friday press release from Transformco, the Sidney site is one of 45 Kmarts closing in February, with going-out-of-business sales expected to start on Dec. 2.
The statement cites financial struggles in a changing business climate as cause for the closures.
“Since purchasing all assets of Sears Holding Corporation in February 2019, Transformco has faced a difficult retail environment,” the statement said. “We have been working hard to position Transformco for success by focusing on our competitive strengths and pruning operations that have struggled due to increased competition and other factors. As part of this process, we have made the difficult decision to streamline our operation and close 96 Sears and Kmart stores.”
According to a USA Today article published Thursday, “Sears and Kmart have closed more than 3,500 stores and cut about 250,000 jobs in the past 15 years.” Transformco said that following the closures, it will maintain 182 stores.
Sidney-specific statistics were not available, as a representative from Transformco declined further comment Friday. A manager at the Sidney store also declined an interview Friday, though noted the store has operated in the village since about 1997. The manager said she was unsure of how many it employed.
Sidney Grant Administrator John Redente said village officials heard about the closing in mid-October.
“The developer (of the plaza) called the mayor, so we knew that it was coming two or three weeks ago. It was inevitable,” he said. “Kmart’s been closing stores all over the place.”
Though Redente said he was unaware of specific reasons for closure, he, too, attributed it to a changing retail culture.
“It’s unfortunately a sign of the times,” he said. “More and more retail stores are closing and we just happen to be one of them hit this time. In today’s world, if you ask people where they shop … it’s online or Amazon, and every time they do that, it’s one less thing you need a store for.”
Redente noted that the site developer is “aggressively looking for someone to go in there,” though said there are no prospects yet.
“It may not even be another retailer,” he said, “but we think whatever ends up there will do well, because Price Chopper (in the same plaza) does very, very well there.”
Sidney resident and business owner Rebecca Tyler said that although she's not an avid Kmart shopper, she’s hopeful for a new occupant. Tyler owns Studio B Performing Arts Academy on Main Street in Sidney.
“I can probably count on one hand the number of times I shop there in a year, so the closure won’t affect me much,” she said. “However, since I’m expecting, that would have likely changed with last-minute items that I’ll now have to go to Oneonta to get.
“I am hoping another store will come in to replace it — Target would be my personal choice — that will be more current in terms of selection,” Tyler continued. “The right store would draw people into Sidney on a larger scale and could have a big positive impact on our economy. Sidney has always been the only ‘hub’ between Binghamton and Oneonta and I feel like we lose that with the loss of another big store, unless something comes in to replace it.”
Though Redente said community members have expressed feeling “disappointed,” he doesn’t foresee the closure having a significant economic impact.
“We have zero unemployment in the village and all of the downtown businesses are doing well,” he said. “This could even help the stores downtown … because for little things, people will go in and they still want to get out and walk around. For big things like TVs, they’ll go online, but I think the future is small, specialty shops in little villages and that’s what we’re going for.”