(HELENA) Local business leaders say the announcement that Helena’s Kmart will close later this year is disappointing, but not surprising.
Sears Holdings announced Thursday it plans to close more than 100 Sears and Kmart stores over the next year. The Kmart on Cedar Avenue in Helena is expected to shut its doors in April.
This announcement comes less than a year after another national retailer shuttered a Helena location. J.C. Penney’s store in the Capital Hill Mall closed in July.
Cathy Burwell, president and CEO of the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce, said many national chains are being forced to scale back their operations, but that Sears and J.C. Penney were in particularly difficult situations.
“I think that those were two of the companies nationwide that were struggling the most,” she said. “You heard a lot of rumors ahead of time about them. We haven’t heard rumors of other companies.”
Burwell said there has been interest in bringing other retailers, like Kohl’s and Herberger’s, to the Helena area. She doesn’t believe the loss of Kmart and J.C. Penney will have any bearing on whether or not other chains move in.
“Companies that are looking to come into Helena would do their own research on the market, and they know what they can attract,” said Burwell.
Burwell said the closure of any business is always difficult for employees. However, she said Helena’s unemployment rate is currently very low, so Kmart employees may have an easier time finding another job.