MARSHALL, Mich. — The last Kmart in Michigan won't be lasting much longer.
Store associates told News Channel 3 the Kmart on West Michigan Avenue in Marshall will close in November. They could not give an exact date.
Job postings confirmed that the store will close, and that the location is hiring temporary cashiers and associates. Inside the store, many items were more than 50% off, with some goods including jewelry as much as 90% off.
"I'm not surprised," said shopper Billie Briegel of the impending closure. "But I'm also very disappointed because there's a lot of people that use this Kmart and have a wide variety of things for families."
News Channel 3 contacted Kmart's corporate owner, Transformco, based in Hoffman Estate, Illinois, but did not hear back.
Marshall City Manager Tom Tarkiewicz said shoppers will miss the store.
"It was always a go-to. Even before the big-box stores opened up in the Battle Creek area, they were here. So it attracted a lot of people here," said Tarkiewicz. "Even after the Kmarts had closed around the area, people still came to Marshall because they really like the Kmart facility. So it's going to be missed. Now, we can't just run a mile down the road here and consume some odds-and-ends shopping."
"We have bus service here in town that doesn't go out. So we have a lot of our people who don't drive that actually go to Kmart," Tarkiewicz added.
Tarkiewicz did not believe the closure of Marshall's only big-box store would cause an economic problem.
"Our downtown is 98% full. So we are doing really well," Tarkiewicz said. "There is a big need for additional commercial space. So I think depending on what the owner decides to do with the building, I think he can fill it, maybe not with one store but maybe have to subdivide it into smaller businesses. So I think economically, anytime a big-box store closes, it affects a little bit of the tax base. But it's a small portion of our entire community."
Tarkiewicz said the city had not been officially notified by the property owner about Kmart's closure. But the city planned to work with economic development leaders to attract businesses. He said any business interested in the location should contact the city.
"We're going to start working with our Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, which does all our economic development, commercial tourism, industrial," said Tarkiewicz. "Again, we have not been notified yet. We're hearing it through social media and through you. So we'll be working with the owner. I met the owner just a couple months ago. He's from California and I feel he will be creative. I don't think the building will stay empty very long."
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, who said he had heard news of Kmart's closure, hoped there would be new opportunities for smaller businesses.
"Our economic growth is going to come from those people who are starting businesses and launching new ideas, and from the state government supporting them so they have a chance to be successful," said Gilchrist.
Michigan was the birthplace of Kmart. In 1899, Sebastian Kresge opened a store in downtown Detroit offering low-priced items, according to Transformco's website. Kresge expanded to 85 stores in 1912. The S.S. Kresge Company opened its first Kmart store in 1962 in Garden City, Michigan.
Kmart and Sears merged as Sears Holdings Corporation in 2005. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018, Sears Holding Corporation's assets were acquired by Transformco.
News of Kmart's closure in Marshall came less than four years after the Kmart on Capital Avenue in Battle Creek closed. The Sears at Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek later closed as well.
Including the Marshall store, Kmart has 22 stores in nine U.S. states and territories as of Sept. 27, 2021. New York has the most at five, while Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands each has four. California has three, New Jersey has two, while Guam, Michigan, Montana and Puerto Rico each have one.
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