Richard Earl Stallworth and his family have shopped at the Kmart in St. Clair Shores for many years, buying everything from clothing to furniture and kitchenware.
It’s the closest store of its kind to his East English Village neighborhood in Detroit, Stallworth said. Now, he doesn’t know where he will shop when the Kmart closes in January.
“A lot of people are going to be mad about it,” the 55-year-old Stallworth said as he waited for his mother and sister to come out of the store last Friday. “It’s not right.”
Stallworth is among many shoppers disappointed by the looming closures of their favorite big-box retailers — a national trend experts say proves the industry’s power has shifted to the consumer. The rise of e-commerce is giving customers more options, including access to a wider range of products and services, and small businesses and companies must compete to stay afloat.
“When I was a kid, I was limited by what was in the stores,” said Mark Mathews, vice president of research development and industry analysis at the National Retail Federation. “Now you can buy what you want, when you want it and how you want it.”
Kmart, Target, Sears and Macy’s all announced store closures across the country this year, including locations in Metro Detroit that operated for many years.
More than a dozen major retailers filed for creditor protection this year, including Payless, Gymboree and Perfumania Holdings. Those stores were using the Chapter 11 process to close low-performing stores and expand online sales. Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy in September and has struggled to compete with Amazon and Wal-Mart. Some reports suggested the New Jersey-based toy store would have to close underperforming locations as a result. A company spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Stephanie Cegielski, a spokeswoman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said filing for bankruptcy isn’t always a bad sign because it allows a company to deal with its debt.
“They are allowed to restructure and can often times come out stronger post-bankruptcy,” Cegielski wrote in an email. “Payless Shoes recently emerged from bankruptcy and looks to be better positioned for the future.”
In Metro Detroit, Barnes & Noble will close its Detroit/Grosse Pointe Woods store on Mack after the holiday season in mid-January, but the bookstore blamed that on being unable to reach a lease extension agreement with the property owner. The bookseller has also closed its West Bloomfield Township and Royal Oak locations in recent years.
Sharon Selby has made weekly trips with her daughter to the Barnes & Noble in Detroit/Grosse Pointe Woods for as long as she can remember. When the bookstore closes, their tradition will end, said Selby, 75.
“I want to cry,” Selby said outside the store Friday. “You can buy books online, but there’s nothing like going in a bookstore.”
Renee Mason, 45, of Grosse Pointe Farms said she takes her children to the Barnes & Noble at least 10 times a year. Mason said she is worried that the bookstore won’t be able to reopen in another location.
“People are really unhappy about it,” Mason said.
Jim Lampassi, vice president of Real Estate Development for Barnes & Noble, said in a statement that the book retailer hopes to find another location.
“We had discussions with the property owner in hopes of agreeing to an extension of the lease, but unfortunately we were unable to come to an agreement,” he said. “We are actively looking at other locations to serve our customers in Grosse Pointe, and in the interim, we invite our valued customers to shop at the nearby Troy store and online at BN.com.”
Variety, location key factors
As much as it appears traditional retail is shrinking, Mathews said there is no indication that brick-and-mortar chains are dying since 90 percent of sales still are in-store purchases. However, he said retailers that want to survive need to acknowledge that consumers want variety in their shopping experience.
Some industry leaders say location is also driving some local stores to close. For example, if a community is losing population, the store’s sales may decline as a result, Mathews said.
Kmart appears to be one of the hardest-hit chains this year. Its owner, Sears Holdings, continues to announce rounds of closures for Kmart and Sears.
In a letter to the state of Michigan dated Oct. 3, Kmart wrote that a “change in business circumstances” forced the company to close the Kmart in St. Clair Shores at 22801 Harper. The company will begin laying off the store’s 127 employees on Jan. 7, according to the letter.
Kroger is in talks with the city of St. Clair Shores about developing a store at the location, spokeswoman Rachel Hurst confirmed in an email.
“We are currently going through planning to get city approvals, and a future construction schedule will be determined at a later date,” Hurst said.
That idea doesn’t sit well with Sue Defer of St. Clair Shores.
“It’s kind of sad because it’s the last (Kmart) around here,” said Defer, after purchasing clothing and pajamas from the store’s closeout sale last week. “I think it’s kind of silly; there’s a Kroger everywhere.”
The Clinton Township Kmart store at 41601 Garfield is also set to close, and it’s among 45 Kmarts nationwide that will end operations in late January.
“Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size,” the company said in a statement. “In the process, as previously announced we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.”
2 Target stores to close
Target intends to close 12 stores nationwide on Feb. 3, including two in Michigan: the Eastland store in Harper Woods and a Benton Harbor location.
The company maintains that while it closes low-performing stores each year it also opens new stores.
Target spokeswoman Erin Conroy said each year Target reviews the performance of its stores. Those with declining sales and profitability are considered for closure, she said.
In 2016, Target closed six stores, and in 2015 it closed 13. This year, the company opened new 32 stores, she said.
Target has worked to maintain its competitiveness, allowing shoppers to order items online and pick them up in the store if they choose to, Conroy said.
“The decision to close a store is certainly not an easy one, and we definitely don’t take it lightly,” Conroy told The Detroit News. “It’s an incredibly small percentage that we close each year at a time when a lot of retailers are closing a very large number of stores.”
Holiday shopping guide
Holiday shoppers can anticipate long lines and scavenging for parking. This year, shops are opening as early as 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. For those committing to the sale, go with a game plan and be aware most malls close between midnight and 6 a.m.
Here is a guide of mall and store hours for the two-day shopping frenzy.
*Note department store hours vary.
Fairlane Town Center: Open Thanksgiving 6 p.m.-midnight; open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Black Friday
Westland Center: Closed on Thanksgiving; open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on Black Friday
Southland Center: Open 6 p.m. - midnight on Thanksgiving ; open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. on Black Friday
Macomb Mall: Closed on Thanksgiving; open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. on Black Friday
Lakeside Mall: Open 6 p.m.-midnight on Thanksgiving; open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on Black Friday
Twelve Oaks Mall: Open 6 p.m.-midnight on Thanksgiving; open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. on Black Friday
Oakland Mall: Closed on Thanksgiving; open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on Black Friday
Great Lakes Crossing: Open 6 a.m.-midnight on Thanksgiving; open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on Black Friday
Birch Run Outlets: Open 6 p.m.-midnight on Thanksgiving; open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on Black Friday
Tanger Outlets: Open 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving -10 p.m. on Black Friday
Briarwood Mall: Open 6 p.m.-1 a.m. on Thanksgiving; open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. on Black Friday
Somerset Collection: Closed on Thanksgiving; open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. on Black Friday
Partridge Creek: Closed on Thanksgiving; open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. on Black Friday
Stores open on Thanksgiving
Bass Pro Shops: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thanksgiving; 5 a.m.-11 p.m. Black Friday
Best Buy: 5 p.m.-1 a.m. on Thanksgiving; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Black Friday
Big Lots: 7 a.m.-midnight
Carson's: 11 a.m 3 p.m. Black Friday
Dollar General: 7 a.m -10 p.m.
Dick's Sporting Goods: 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday
Dunham Sports: 4 p.m.-3 p.m. Black Friday
Gamestop: 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Thanksgiving; 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Black Friday
Five Below: 6 p.m.-1 a.m. on Thanksgiving; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. on Black Friday
J. C. Penney: 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Black Friday
Kohl's: 5 p.m-midnight Black Friday
Kmart: 6 a.m.-2 p.m Black Friday
Macy's: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Black Friday
Meijer: Open 24 hours Thursday through Sunday
Michael's: 6 p.m.- midnight; opens an hour earlier (5 p.m.) for rewards members
Sears: 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Black Friday
Target: 6 p.m.-midnight; Reopens 6 a.m. Black Friday
Toys R Us: 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday
Walmart: 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Black Friday
Ulta: 6 a.m.-2 a.m.; Reopens 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Black Friday
Stores closed on Thanksgiving, open for Black Friday
Apple: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Bed Bath & Beyond: 6 a.m.-noon
Guitar Center: 6 a.m.-9 p.m.
Menards: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
Nordstrom: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Radio Shack: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.