KAHULUI – After nearly half a century, the Sears department store, one of the first tenants of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, is closing its doors.
The Kahului retailer, which began selling its inventory with discounted sales, is expected to shut down on Nov. 14, according to a statement from Transformco, the company formed in 2019 to purchase the assets of Sears Holding Corp. Sears was one of the first tenants of the Ka’ahumanu Center when it opened in 1972.
Transformco has announced its intention to close the store at “Redevelop and revitalize the property”, with redevelopment details announced as plans are finalized.
“With the redevelopment of this location focused primarily on retail use, we intend to reinvigorate and maximize real estate value while enhancing the consumer experience with popular retailers that cater to the needs of changing needs of Kahului-Maui. “ said Scott Carr, president of real estate for Transformco.
The company added that its forward-looking strategy for Sears and Kmart is to operate a “diversified portfolio” made up of a small number of premier department stores with a larger number of small format stores – combined with its “Shop your way” rewards program, sears.com online marketplace and buy online, grab store capabilities.
Sears Holding Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15, 2018. Prior to this announcement, Sears Holdings was already closing Sears and Kmart stores nationwide. The Maui Kmart next to Costco closed in June 2017.
The closure of the Maui Sears store is one of the last of its kind in the state. There is a Sears store in Oahu called Sears Appliance & Mattress in Ala Moana, according to the Sears website.
The Kahului store outlasted its counterparts at the Pearlridge Center and Windward Mall in Oahu and a store in Prince Kuhio Plaza on the island of Hawaii.
Discussions about the Maui store closure have been going on for years as merchandise dwindled.
In its heyday, however, the store was stocked with clothes and shoes for the whole family, from babies to kupuna sizes, as well as household items, jewelry, appliances, tools, and electronics. People frequented the store for its automotive hub, as well as its optical shelf and a place to make an extra set of keys.
An employee who answered the phone at the auto center said on Friday it was open but there was no technician to service the vehicles. The automotive centre’s large garage doors were closed during its normal working hours listed on its website.
On Friday morning, every store door had bright yellow signs with red words announcing a store closing sale. The store’s fixtures, furnishings and equipment were also put up for sale. There were also posted signs looking for employees.
Transformco said it will continue to expand both Hometown stores and Home & Life stores in towns and villages that previously had larger format stores. There are more than 300 large and small Sears and Kmart stores nationwide, the statement said.
The store, advertised at around 87,000 square feet, has been available for rent for months.
A spokesperson did not respond to a question about the number of employees who continued to work at the Maui store.
The Queen Ka’ahumanu Center did not immediately comment on the closure on Friday afternoon.
The mall also saw longtime tenant Hallmark close in May. The store was a mainstay for almost 45 years.
In June, a judge granted a request to seize the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center amid a months-long lawsuit over its non-payment of a loan of more than $ 80 million.
* Melissa Tanji can be contacted at [email protected]