Posted: 3:33 pm Thursday, December 29th, 2011

West Palm Beach Sears closing 

By Kim Miller

The Sears Essentials store in West Palm Beach is one of the locations being closed by parent company Sears Holding Corp., which announced Tuesday it will shutter up to 120 stores nationwide.

On Thursday, the locations of 79 Sears and Kmart stores targeted for closing were released on the company’s website, including 11 Florida locations. The company said it didn’t immediately know how many employees would be affected.

In addition to the Sears at 4560 Forest Hill Blvd., sister stores in Port St. Lucie, Stuart and Deland will also close. One full service Sears in Crystal River and six Kmarts, none in Palm Beach, Martin or St. Lucie counties, are also scheduled for shut down.

A manager at the West Palm Beach store said employees were notified Thursday morning that the store would be open only until April and that the company would try to find jobs at other locations for workers.

“There are obviously mixed feelings,” said the manager, who didn’t want to give his name. “We’re the closest location for people who live out west.”

Sears Holdings blamed lower purchases of electronics and apparel at Kmart stores for a 4.4 percent decrease in fourth quarter sales through Dec. 25, compared to the same time last year. Sears’ 6 percent decrease was attributed to drops in electronics and home appliance sales.

Sears will still have four locations in Palm Beach County, not including auto centers, at the Boynton Beach Mall, The Gardens Mall, Town Center mall in Boca Raton, and a Hometown Store at 2505 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach.

Customers loyal to Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools are sad to see the chain suffer.

“The kids today only look at the bottom line and go where it’s the cheapest,” said Gordon DiBattisto, 63, who was shopping Tuesday at the Sears Essentials in West Palm Beach. “It’s a shame. I’m old school, a loyal customer. I look at quality too.”

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