The company that owns Sears and Kmart has apparently added two of its Keys locations to the chopping block by posting temporary jobs for “store closings” at the Key Largo and Marathon Kmarts late last week.
The only Lower Keys Kmart, on North Roosevelt Boulevard in Key Plaza, appears unaffected by the closings at this time. The Sears store in Key West, which is currently boarded up, closed in August 2020.
Calls and emails to Transformco, the parent company of the two long-time retailers, remain unanswered as of Tuesday.
In the Middle and Upper Keys, full-time temporary employment for cashiers, customer service associates and a fixture removal associate were posted Friday on Kmart’s job bulletin.
Initial signs of the former discount retail giant’s demise surfaced two years ago when the company announced the closure of 96 stores throughout the nation, citing “a difficult retail environment and other challenges.”
The news of the local closures may not come as a surprise. For many local shoppers, the “blue light special” has been turned off already.
The stores are ghosts of their former selves. They’re eerily bare and devoid of shoppers. Large sections have been cordoned off, which has dramatically reduced their footprints. The Key Largo location closed its garden center last year.
The Kmart stores will begin to liquidate any remaining assets next week, according to an article in Forbes.
Residents posting to a popular Facebook page for local information were vocal about the stores’ former glory as the only large box retail options in the area.
“So unfortunate. The Key Largo store was the best Kmart for decades. Very appealing well-run store. Then it went downhill,” posted Lisa Braddy Clerie.
“The Kmart in Key Largo definitely was the best in the Keys,” agreed John Parker. Others remain hopeful for a Target or similar retailer.
The Key West and Kendall locations will be the only two Kmarts left in the state once the Key Largo and Marathon stores shutter their doors.
Kmart began as a retailer in 1899. There were 3,500 U.S. Kmart and Sears stores and more than 300,000 employees when Kmart acquired Sears in 2005.
Commercial Real Estate Exchange Inc. has had a lease purchase option for the 102,465-square-foot Key Largo location listed for 83 days.
There may be some hope on the horizon.
In January, Transformco completed the sale and assignment of five Kmart store leases to Target Corporation. There are currently no Target stores in the Florida Keys.