Sunday marks the last day in Joliet for Sears, a store that has not only been here for the entire lives of local shoppers but also shaped the city’s growth.
“I hate that it’s closing. It’s going to be missed,” said Ernestine Trezvant of Joliet as she was about to go into the store at the Louis Joliet Mall for what was likely the last time on Friday.
“I bought my first TV at Sears,” said her friend Deloris Caesar of Joliet. “You really got your whole household here.”
The rows of kitchen appliances were down to one refrigerator by Friday after weeks of a store closing sale.
An employee said the plan is to open one last time at noon on Sunday. Closing time likely depends on what was left.
Men’s clothing was down to three racks on Friday. Rows of shoe shelves were mostly empty. The jewelry department was gone, even fixtures.
Trezvant and Caesar hardly were the only ones regretting the loss of Sears.
“Sears has always been one of the better stores in Joliet,” former Councilman Bob Hacker said. “I remember when they were downtown on Chicago Street, and before that they were downtown on Ottawa Street.”
Hacker as a councilman in the 1970s took on a mission of persuading Homart, the former real estate development division of Sears, to annex the land where the future Louis Joliet Mall was to be built into the city. Sears was so big then it was hard to imagine a day when it would no longer do business in Joliet.
“I never thought that could happen to them,” Hacker said. “But there are so many changes in the world that it’s hard to figure out what will happen next.”
Sears is the second mall anchor store to close. Carson’s closed in August.
Sears remains in business elsewhere, although it’s not clear for how long.
Sears Holdings, which owns Kmart, is in bankruptcy with an offer from company chairman Eddie Lampert to buy the business and its remaining 425 stores through a hedge fund he controls.
Forty more stores are slated to close in February.