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Kmart Closing Hits NW Ind. Community

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This Kmart store in St. John, Ind. is scheduled to close under a plan announced by Sears Holding. (CBS)

This Kmart store in St. John, Ind. is scheduled to close under a plan announced by Sears Holding. (CBS)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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ST. JOHN, Ind. (CBS) — An 80,000-square-foot Kmart store in Lake County, Ind., is among the locations that have been put on the chopping block by the Sears Holdings Corp.

The parking lot was almost empty Thursday night, while the lot down the street at the competing Target store was nearly full and bustling.  That may be the reason Sears has determined that the Kmart store is “marginally performing” and will soon be closed.

Kmart patrons seem more than marginally unhappy.

“It’s the first store I shopped at when I moved to the area nine years ago,” customer Toni Childs told CBS 2’s Mike Parker. “I’ve always gotten my prescriptions here, and I love the pharmacist.”

Paul Gesiakowski was also saddened at the news.

“It’s been a big part of the community for a long time,” he said.

So it has. In 1985, a gunman shot and killed a motorcyclist nearby, then turned his fire on the store. He killed a cashier and a customer.

The St. John Kmart survived the tragedy, but now apparently cannot survive this economy. Other town businesses have closed, and housing starts in the town have gone from 400 a year in 2007 to about 100 this year.

“You don’t like to see anything close. And jobs? You know, people are struggling by with jobs,” Town Manager Steve Kil says.

Kil says he called Sears headquarters on Thursday, trying to find out when the store will close and how many jobs will be lost. He hadn’t heard from them by Thursday evening.

“I did suspect I would get a call back by now,” he said.

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