Kmart closing Evergreen store by mid-December

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A shopper enters the Kmart in Evergreen on Friday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Kmart in Evergreen will close by mid-December, the company’s public relations director announced in an email statement Friday.

“After careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Kmart store in Kalispell,” Sears/Kmart Public Relations Director Larry Costello said in the email. “The liquidation sale is expected to begin in mid-September and the store is planned to close by mid-December. We encourage customers to continue shopping on Kmart.com for all their product needs.”

Kmart had been a longtime local retailer and a prominent business in the Evergreen community. They currently have a staff of around 40 employees. Nearby box store Shopko also closed earlier this year as large retail chains across the country struggle to compete with trends in online shopping.

Kmart has faced recent financial challenges, merging with Sears Holdings in 2005 and narrowly avoiding total bankruptcy earlier this year. Kmart and Sears have shut down stores across the country, including 26 closings slated for October that were announced Aug. 7.

Connie McCubbins, executive director of the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce, lamented the pending Kmart closure.

“The Evergreen Chamber of Commerce will miss having the Kmart store as part of our thriving community,” she said in an email statement Friday. “It opened as part of a new wave of growth decades ago and has served the community extremely well.”

Kmart was among the first of the big box department stores to spring up in the United States. The first Kmart discount department store opened in Garden City, Michigan in 1962, according to Sears Holdings’ website. The company’s roots go back to 1899, however, when Sebastian Spering Kresge opened a modest five-and-dime store in downtown Detroit, and changed the landscape of retailing.

By the mid-1920s, the S.S. Kresge Co. was opening locations that sold items for $1 or less, a precursor to the current discount store, the website noted.

Kmart invested $3.5 billion in a moderization program in 1990, with a complete redesign of the company’s stores in 1996. In 2003, Kmart and 37 of its U.S. subsidiaries and affiliates emerged from a Chapter 11 reorganization.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at bserbin@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.

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