Final days

The Richfield Kmart location as it appears Friday afternoon, left, is in contrast to how the store looked on opening day in 1981 in a photo that published in The Richfield Reaper, right. The store is closing after nearly 35 years of business.

After almost 35 years of service, the Richfield Kmart store is set to close its doors forever in April.

The closure will result in 53 people losing their jobs — most of them part time — according to Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Sears Holdings.

“Those associates that are eligible will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores,” Riefs said.

The closing is tentatively set for mid-April, with a storewide liquidation beginning Sunday, Jan. 24, according to Riefs.

“Until then, the store will remain open for customers,” Riefs said. He said the closure is part of a strategy to change how the Kmart/Sears corporation functions.

“Store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” Riefs said.

Richfield’s Kmart opened in October 1981 as the first big box retailer in Sevier County. Kmart was the anchor store of the Richfield Plaza, which initially opened a couple of weeks after Kmart.

“I was saddened to hear the news about Kmart,” said Richfield City Mayor Dave Ogden. “My first thought was for the many jobs lost. Any time jobs are lost I am concerned, but so many at one time is shocking.”

Ogden said Kmart’s closure has been a possibility for a while.

“My hope was that the economy would strengthen and our Kmart would survive and thrive,” Ogden said. He said the city’s hope is now for the people who work at Kmart to be able to find other employment and that the vacated space can be filled with another business.

(1) comment

JD Books

The mayor should pick up the lease and put the Richfield library in there. They could really do a lot of neat things and make it a gathering place for city residents.

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