The liquidation sales began Friday morning at the Sears and Kmart stores being closed in Columbus and Phenix City, with discounts being taken on merchandise throughout them.
“Nothing Held Back!” and “Huge Inventory Blowout!” screamed the signs at the Kmart store at 2003 U.S. Highway 280 in Phenix City, with items being sold for between 10 percent and 30 percent off the ticketed price. Valentine’s Day items were 20 percent off.
The pricing ranged from 30 percent off clothing to 25 percent off toys to 20 percent off bedding and things such as towels to 10 percent off on kitchen ware, including sets of pots and pans.
The Sears store at 5555 Whittlesey Blvd., at Columbus Park Crossing, had “Store Closing Sale” and Nothing Held Back” signs as well, offering 10 percent to 30 percent off. Fans of the Craftsman tools and lawn mowers could purchase those for 10 percent off the ticketed price, while most clothing was 30 percent to 40 percent off. Jewelry had a 50 percent discount.
Sears Holdings, parent company of the local stores, said earlier this week that the liquidation sales at all 150 Sears and Kmart locations being eliminated would begin Friday. The Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based company said the stores will wind down operations and be empty by this spring. That means the liquidation will continue over several weeks, with the percentage discounts increasing as time goes by and the selection of merchandise dwindling.
Along with the Phenix City Kmart, the Sears store and the Kmart outlet at 3200 Macon Road are among 42 Sears locations and 108 Kmart stores nationwide targeted for closure in Sears Holdings’ latest downsizing round. On Friday, an employee at the Columbus auto service center said it will remain open. The Kmart at 2500 Airport Thruway is not on the closure list.
Sears, an iconic retailer founded in 1886, is famed for its annual Christmas “Wishbook” catalog that connected shoppers in urban and rural America to its products. The goods could be purchased at the store or ordered via mail. Sears also is known for its Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard brands, with it announcing earlier this week it is selling the Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black and Decker, with a license agreement that it can sell Craftsman items perpetually at Sears stores and royalty-free for the first 15 years.
Kmart, which dates to 1899 as the SS Kresge Corporation, opened its first Kmart-branded store in 1962. The discounter is perhaps best known for its “blue light special” promotional campaign in which shoppers inside stores were encouraged to venture to a flashing blue light to seek out a great deal on an item.
With the current closures, Sears Holdings will operate fewer than 1,500 combined Sears and Kmart stores nationwide. Just a few years ago, it had 3,500-plus locations across America.