Now, at least four of the places affected — Jackson, Miss., Cleveland, Tenn., New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and Harper Woods, Mich. — are fighting the company’s decision. Local governments, afraid of the economic impact of the closures, are appealing to Sears Holdings with petitions, rallies and even tax incentives, so far to no avail.
“We would like for a major store to remain in the Jackson area,” pleaded Mary Garner on the online petition started by Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. “Please do not desert us.” The petition had 3,251 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
We’d be surprised if the company changes its decision. The stores being closed have long histories of being unprofitable, and it’s unlikely that community response can be strong enough or sustained enough to reverse that, particularly given the level of investment Sears would have to put into the stores. The company said as much in an email to the Huffington Post
“We appreciate the community support and in fact have seen an increase in traffic to these stores since the petitions have started,” Tom Aiello, a Sears spokesperson, wrote in an email. “Unfortunately these stores have lost money for several years and Sears Holdings, as a company, cannot continue to support underperforming stores.”
There was a time when having a Sears put a town on the map. That time is long past, and the sooner these cities and towns move their focus from the past to things that can drive their future prosperity, the faster they will be able to make meaningful progress with their economic development.
Disclosure: The author holds no position in any stock mentioned
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