After nearly 25 years in Baxter, Kmart is closing its doors.
Stephen Pagnani, Kmart spokesman in Michigan, said the store will be closing by the end of October or early November depending on the store liquidation. The closing affects between 60 and 75 employees at the store.
"The lease has expired and we are not renewing," Pagnani said.
The store closing is not part of a round of closings. Pagnani said just one other store in Pennsylvania is closing as its lease is not being renewed either. Pagnani said a variety of factors go into the decision against a lease renewal here but the company does not release that information. Employees were told of the store's closing Wednesday. Pagnani said employees will be retained until the store clearance.
Kmart opened in November 1979 in Baxter. Kmart opened its first store in the Brainerd area in 1979 in its current location before the Westgate Mall was constructed.
Pagnani said Kmart does not release information on sales related to individual stores. As for a future Kmart presence in the lakes area, Pagnani said there are no new store plans.
A couple of employees expressed frustration at now having the news of the store's closing in the newspaper, but they declined to comment on the record. One woman said she did not want to comment or be involved and would wait for Kmart to make an announcement.
Westgate Mall management declined to comment on news of Kmart's closing.
The store closing may not come as a big surprise for many. In January 2003, the Big Kmart store in Baxter survived a second round of store closings by the Michigan-based discount retailer.
The first Kmart opened in Garden City, Mich., a Detroit suburb, in 1962.
The company opened its 2,000th Kmart in 1981.
The stores trace their history back to 1899 with the foundation of the S.S. Kresge Co., a five-and-dime variety store in downtown Detroit where things were sold for a nickel or 10 cents.
Success was proven with an expansion to 85 stores and annual sales of more than $10 million by 1912.
Inflation during World War II sent prices climbing to 25 cents.
By the mid-1920s, the company was opening stores where the merchandise could be had for less than $1.
Kmart Corp. closed hundreds of stores across 40 states cutting 22,000 jobs as the retailer restructured in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Four years ago store managers were more hopeful. In July 2000, the Kmart store in Baxter completed a 10-week renovation to become a Big Kmart, a version of the company store that focuses on home fashions, children's apparel and items such as an expanded food area.
At the time, the corporate office announced the Baxter store's revamped appearance represented greater convenience for shoppers and a $500,000 investment in the area economy. The first Big Kmart opened in Chicago on April 23, 1997.
Kmart Holding Corp. reported a net income of $155 million, or $1.54 per diluted share, for the second quarter or the 13 weeks ending July 28. For the same period last year the company reported a net loss of $5 million.
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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