• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Kmart to close Jan. 28

On Thursday, Nov. 2, Thelma Wills was wearing a red t-shirt emblazoned with the name of the soon-to-be closed store from which she’d just walked out.

Willis had just heard from Kmart employees that the clothing and general merchandise store was closing on Jan. 28, with one of them saying the news was like a death in the family.

“I’m devastated because it’s the only real shop that we have here … except for Kroger, you know, and I like Kmart, I always have,” Wills said.

Wills got the free t-shirt, which entitles wearers to discounts, on Senior Discount Day from the Kmart pharmacy a month before. She said she’d been shopping there since shortly after it opened in the Lexington Road Plaza 20 or so years ago. (Before that, Kmart was in the Versailles Center, where Holiday Inn Express is under construction.)

I’m just hoping we’ll get something else as good as (Kmart),” Wills said. “I’m just sorry to see it happen. I really am.”

Sears Holdings, the parent company of Kmart stores, announced Thursday that the Versailles Kmart is one off 45 Kmarts that will close in late January.

A news release from the company said, “… We will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members. … It’s important to note that these stores will remain open to serve members during the holiday season. Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores.”

Kmart’s exit could leave what many refer to as the old Kroger shopping center nearly empty. However, in August, plans were announced for a microbrewery/restaurant to open in mid-November in renovated areas once occupied by Advance Auto Parts and China Buffet.

That news may be of little consolation to Kmart shoppers like Denise Ortiz, who said she’d been a fan since it was at the Versailles Center.

“This is the only place in Versailles that people (have) to shop and now they’ll have to go out of town,” Ortiz said.

She said she liked Kmart’s low prices on clothes and other items, but had a feeling that the shutdown was imminent.

“I had a feeling they were (about to close), because everything was on sale. But today, a woman just told us they were. Nothing you can do about it,” she said.

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