By Bob Bong
Once mighty Sears, the store founded in Chicago in 1892 and for years America’s retail giant, announced last week it would be closing its last south suburban store in the Chicago Ridge Mall.
The store opened in Chicago Ridge in 1981 and featured a 25-bay auto center, photo studio, optical department and even a Sears Financial Center.
The closing will leave Sears with only the Woodfield Mall location in Schaumburg in the state where it was born. The company opened its first store in Chicago in 1925.
The retailer is now owned by Transformco, which also owns what’s left of Kmart. In recent years, the company has shuttered Sears stores in several southern suburbs including Park Forest, Matteson, Calumet City, Joliet and Orland Park, which closed in 2018. The last area Kmart store in Bridgeview closed in 2019.
The Chicago Ridge closing was added quietly on Friday to a list of 11 store closings announced earlier by Transformco. The latest wave will leave the once mighty retailer with 31 stores. Sears and Kmart have closed more than 3,500 stores and cut about 250,000 jobs in the past 15 years.
Liquidation sales at the store were scheduled to start this week. The store is expected to close on or before April 25.
Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar said, “Yesterday, we were informed of the Sears closing at the Chicago Ridge Mall. We greatly appreciate their many years of being a wonderful retail resource for our community. As retail has changed, the village has continuously worked with mall ownership to modernize and adapt with the times to keep our mall fresh and vibrant.
“Just recently, we were able to attract Dick’s Sporting Goods to help anchor the southern part of the mall. This addition is rare in the mall industry and shows how well regarded our mall is.
“Today, I talked with the CEO of Starwood LLC who is the owner of our mall. We discussed future development and are encouraged about the ability to fill the Sears area quickly. Like me, he has received great feedback about the mall’s future. Please know that we are committed to working with Starwood’s team to ensure Chicago Ridge Mall remains an asset to our village community and the surrounding area.”
Redeveloping the site is possible.
Orland Park is transforming half of the former anchor store at Orland Square Mall into an AMC 10-screen movie theater and is moving to bring in new retailers and restaurants for the other half.