Austin’s Kmart to close in May

Published 12:26 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Officials announced Austin’s Kmart store will close this May.

Kim Freely, a spokeswoman for Kmart’s parent company Sears Holding Corp., confirmed that employees were informed of the decision Wednesday morning. The store will begin liquidation Feb. 21, and the store will be closed to customers May 9.

While there have been rumors about Kmart closing, Austin Area Chamber of Commerce director Sandy Forstner said he was disappointed to hear the news.

Email newsletter signup

“That’s certainly too bad,” Forstner said. “Obviously they’ve been part of our retail community for a number of years.”

Austin’s Kmart opened in 1991 at 1400 18th Ave. NW. Sears Holding Corp has about 3,900 stores nationwide — 1,300 of them are Kmart stores. Freely said the Austin store is the only one closing at this time.

Freely said the decision to not renew the lease and close the store was based on a number of factors, including performance.

“Performance is always a factor,” Freely said.

Kmart has about 71 employees, and Freely said employees who qualify will receive severance packages.

The stretch of 18th Avenue Northeast is one of the retail centers of Austin, with Oak Park Mall and stores like Target, Shopko and Walmart Supercenter, which opened in July 2008.

Kmart’s closing will mark the second chain store to close along 18th Avenue Northwest in the last few years. Cashwise Foods, formerly located next to Kmart, closed a few years ago.

“It’s a big hole along 18th Avenue,” Forstner said.

However, Forstner said he hopes the vacant building can attract new businesses to Austin.