Shawnee Sears to begin liquidation for April closing.

Sears Holdings has announced it is closing its store in Shawnee Mall in mid-April.

City officials and the local economic development office expressed both concern and disappointment on learning of the closure.

Howard Riefs, director of Corporate Communications for Sears Holdings, confirmed the closure. He said the store will close its doors to the public in mid-April.

Until then, the store will remain open for its customers, Riefs said.

Riefs stated the store in Shawnee has 31 employees. Those associates who are eligible will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores, he explained.

He added “most of the associates are part time/hourly.”

Riefs also confirmed “The Kmart in Shawnee will remain open.” And he added “No other Sears or Kmart stores in Oklahoma are impacted.”

Shawnee Mayor Wes Mainord, when informed of the closure, responded “I’ve been hearing that rumor. It just breaks my heart,” he added, noting he has a home full of Sears appliances he has purchased during the 40 years he’s resided in Shawnee.

“I love to shop there. I have a great number of their tools.”

City Manager Brian McDougal offered similar comments. He said “my house is full of their appliances. I’ve purchased many of my tires from there as well,” he noted.

McDougal said from the city’s perspective, “We are concerned. We want to work with the mall ownership to find a suitable replacement. During the interim after the store closes, it will have a negative impact on our sales tax figures,” he predicted.

Tim Burg, director of the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, was unhappy to hear about the fate of the Shawnee Sears location, but also wasn't too surprised after seeing the nationwide impact.

"We're not alone — it's happening all over the U.S.," Burg said, adding Sears is closing stores in many locations. "It didn't come as a big surprise."

Burg said the closure of Sears does provide an opportunity to recruit another strong retail store to the Shawnee area.

He said he's working with the mall’s leasing agents in Chicago in hopes of trying to find potential replacements for that particular retail location in the mall.

Burg said while he was unsure how many employees might be affected by the Sears store closure, he has no doubts in the current market here that they can rapidly find other employment.

Riefs said the local store will begin its liquidation sale this Friday, Jan.10.

Riefs attributed the closing to the lease not being renewed. He further stated “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.

“These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail – at the store, online and in the home.”

Scott Kingrey, manager of Shawnee Mall, said the Sears store contains 67,490 square feet.

When the Shawnee Mall first opened its doors in March of 1989, the Sears store was one of four anchors. The other three included Dillards, JC Penney, and at that time, Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart moved from the mall several years ago to a nearby location just on the east side of the mall.

News-Star reporter Kim Morava contributed to this story.