Brookings Sears forced to close its doors

Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson

The Brookings Sears store will open its doors for the last time on March 24.

While vacationing in Hawaii, Larry Fjeldos, managing director, received an e-mail notice about the store’s impending closure from the corporate headquarters.

“I had not signed the three-year contract for an additional three-year commitment because of not knowing what to do,” Fjeldos said.

Fjeldos wanted to move the store to a new location, but had difficulties doing so.

“I had offered a year-to-year contract and the Sears development people said, ‘No. Either the three-year or month-to-month.’ “

Instead of signing a three-year deal, he signed a one-month contract.

When he didn’t receive any correspondence from the corporate headquarters, he continued business as usual.

“My expectations were that they were going to continue on from month-to-month until we resolved the issues at hand,” Fjeldos said.

Instead he received the e-mail that specified the store’s last day of business

After providing a 20 percent discount all last week, the store might lower the prices again next week in order to clear out store merchandise.

“I think the process will be that a transition team will come in with Sears trucks to take away any of the remaining Sears products,” he said.

The remaining merchandise will be redistributed to other Sears retailers in the area.

Sears currently has operations in Watertown and Sioux Falls and in Marshall, Montevideo and Luverne, Minn.

Fjeldos expects it to take about a week after the closing date to take down building fixtures, like the Sears sign.

He said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Sears return in the future.

The store in the Brickwood Plaza is classified as a neighborhood dealer store, in which the corporate company licenses a local business dealer to sell products to the community, he said.

“They have about seven or eight different formats that they could use other than the dealer store,” he said

The Sears and Kmart partnership may have an influence on whether or not the company makes a return to Brookings.

Sears Holdings corporation, the company that owns both Sears and Kmart, is trying to merge Sears and Kmart into a single format, Fjeldos said. It is trying to blend the essence of both stores.

“That’s a big undertaking. You have a lot of history and culture in both of those companies. Some people have said it’s almost like oil and water – trying to mix the two,” he said.

Despite the differences, Fjeldos holds no hard feelings toward Sears.

“I do know that Sears is a very strong brand,” he said. “That is the reason we associated with them. They are a company that had not only good products, but also excellent customer service.”

Fjeldos said he thinks the retail future of Brookings will be very bright.

“We’ll never be a Sioux Falls, but I do believe we’ll have additional retailing coming to Brookings in the near future,” he said.