We learned Monday that Kmart in Altoona and Sears in DuBois are among more than 100 stores being closed. The closures are a result of the bankruptcy of their parent company Sears Holding Company.
Shoppers we talked to were sorry to hear their Sears and Kmart would be closing. But even those folks who don’t frequent either store are interested in hearing what may be replacing them.
“It makes people a little bit nervous when they see a business that’s been in the community so long, no longer there,” says Blair County Chamber CEO & President Joe Hurd.
He called the news about the Altoona Kmart closing disappointing and added that the chamber will do whatever it can to help people who’ll be losing their jobs. He doesn’t expect the loss of Kmart to affect other local businesses.
Hurd says, “Our retail economy I think is pretty strong and it’s a good combination of local businesses and big box store and so I don’t think that this is something that’s going to have a long term negative impact on the overall retail economy, but you never, know.”
And what happens at the current store locations is really up in the air, according to one local development official. At the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation, President and CEO Steve McKnight says if trends at closed Sears and Kmart stores nationwide hold-up, you won’t see another big retailer move in.
“These footprints for Kmarts or Sears or even mall properties are being look at as mixed use redevelopment opportunities, creating a little bit of housing, higher density housing, mixed with retail and office making real nice places within our community that would be attractive to next generation residents in the area,” he says.
McKnight adds that ABCD Corp has already been looking into possible uses for the site, and will keep working on it, but a lot also depends on what the owner of the property wants to do with it.