MISHAWAKA — Kmart’s famous blue light could be going out in Michiana.
The Kmart store at 420 W. McKinley Ave. is reportedly on the latest list of stores that Sears plans to close.
Business Insider said Sears released the list internally on Tuesday. It was then obtained and released by the business news website.
According to Business Insider, the list of stores includes 16 Sears locations, 49 Kmart stores and seven auto centers. The stores could close by September.
The struggling chain announced earlier this year it would close 180 locations. One of those was the Kmart at the Maple Lane Mall in LaPorte.
Andrew Urbanski, who has worked at the Mishawaka store for about three years, said that employees learned about the possible closing Tuesday morning. He said that his wife, who also works at the store, was there for the announcement.
Urbanski said that there were some tears shed when the announcement was made. He said that Kmart has been part of this community for years, and he recalls going to the Western Avenue store in South Bend as a child and shopping at the Ireland Road location.
Both of those stores already have closed.
Urbanski, who said he has another job, worried about colleagues who rely on the store as their only source of income.
“There are a lot of people that rely on this store not just as a minimum wage job,” he said. “This is what they’ve done for a good portion of their lives, and a lot of them don’t have a car to be able to get over to the mall to get a job there.
“They walk here from where they live.”
Urbanski noted that many regular customers will miss the personal touch that the store’s employees provided.
“It’s more personal,” he said. “A lot of the bigger stores the people shy away from helping customers.
“They’re just there to push product and get out of the way, but here we’ve always been told that when a customer needs help you drop what you’re doing and help the customer.”
The closing of the Kmart is part of the overall challenges being faced by many retailers because of declining foot traffic, a poor holiday shopping season and increasing competition from online retailers.
HHGregg and MC Sports are among several stores that have closed in the region and others are facing major challenges.
With the closing of the Kmart in Mishawaka, the nearest locations will be in Valparaiso and Warsaw.