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Local Sears survives closings -- for now

December 30, 2011

WOONSOCKET – The Sears store in Walnut Hill Plaza has survived the first round of store closings announced by Sears Holdings Co.
The Illinois-based company, which controls the Kmart and Sears chains, posted a list of 79 stores to be closed on Thursday after lackluster holiday performance, but none are located in Rhode Island or Massachusetts.
But the list of 38 Kmart and 41 Sears outlets is incomplete. SHC had said earlier this week that it intends to close up to 120 “marginally performing” locations.
The loss of Sears would be another blow to the city’s largest retail zone on Diamond Hill Road, a strip that also includes such big-name merchandisers as Lowe’s, Staples, Burlington Coat Factory and Shaw’s. But longtime consumer magnet Wal-Mart abruptly pulled the plug on a planned expansion at its existing store this summer and moved to North Smithfield’s new Dowling Village retail center.
Some say Lowe’s, across the street from Walmart’s empty shell, may be the next to go. Developers of Dowling Village have filed plans for at least two new store in Dowling Village, one of which is labeled to indicate that it is intended for a Lowe’s. Another is labeled as a Kohl’s.
The Sears at Walnut Hill Plaza is one of only two Sears locations in Rhode Island. The 60,700-square-foot store is the largest in the plaza, employing about 50 full- and part-time workers.
There’s another Sears at Rhode Island Mall in Warwick, and several in nearby Massachusetts. The only Kmart in the state is in Cranston.

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