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Fort Wayne Sears store in Glenbrook Square escapes closing — for now (List included)

This November 2006 photo shows the inside main entrance to the Sears store in Glenbrook Square as it was decorated for the holiday shopping season that year. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)
Several thousand children line the area near the Sears, Roebuck store Nov. 29, 1957, as Santa Claus, in his sleigh-helicopter, piloted by two of his reindeer, drops from the sky. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)
Sears opened its first store in Fort Wayne in 1953 in what since has been renovated into an office building at Clinton Street and Rudisill Boulevard. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)
This January 2002 photo shows a busy parking lot in front of the Southtown Mall Sears store as people shopped for deals before the store's closing that year. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)
Sears stores have always been known as a source for tools. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)

The Sears department store in Glenbrook Square is not on list of Sears and Kmart stores the company plans to close in early September, based on a company announcement issued today. But parent company Sears Holdings said it also is re-evaluating a group of nine stores pulled from what it said would be a 72-store closing list, and the list “will be updated as appropriate.”

Three Indiana Sears stores were on the list: Lafayette, Muncie and 6020 E. 82nd St. in Indianapolis, the announcement said. The Sears store in Lima, Ohio, also will be closed.

Store liquidation sales will begin as early as June 14, the announcement said.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to streamline the company’s operations and focus on our best stores, we have identified approximately 100 non‐profitable stores, many of which will begin store closing sales in the near future,” the financially struggling company’s announcement said. “We continue to evaluate our network of stores, which are a critical component in our transformation, and will make further adjustments as needed and as warranted.”

Company officials informed workers at 15 Kmart stores and 48 Sears stores — a total of 63 stores — that their locations will close in early September, the announcement said.

Eligible employees affected by the store closings will receive severance pay and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores, the announcement said.

Customers can use the store locator function on the Sears and Kmart websites to find stores near them, the announcement said.

LOCAL HISTORY

The Sears store in Glenbrook Square, 4201 Coldwater Road, is the last remnant of what has been a long history and strong presence in Fort Wayne dating back 90 years.

Here is a timeline looking back at Sears history, particularly in Fort Wayne:

1886: Richard Sears opened the R.W. Sears Watch Company in Minneapolis, Minn., Sears Holdings’ archives report.

1887: Sears moved his business to Chicago and hired Alvah C. Roebuck, a Lafayette, Ind., native, as a watchmaker.

1893: Sears and Roebuck became partners, forming Sears, Roebuck & Co. and starting their mail-order catalog business.

Early 1900s: Sears opened a store in Fort Wayne in 1928, a story in The News-Sentinel archives said. The company operated stores at three other locations before leasing 113-115 W. Berry St. in downtown Fort Wayne, archive stories said.

A 1933 Fort Wayne city directory shows the store at the West Berry Street location.

1937: Sears signs leases for the ground floor of a building at 207 W. Berry St. and a three-story garage at 810 S. Harrison St., a News-Sentinel archives story said. The Berry Street building will be used for the retailer’s farm store, which was at 610 S. Harrison St., and the Harrison Street garage will be used as an auto center on the ground floor and warehousing in the basement and upper floors

1944: The Sears department store on West Berry suffered heavy fire damage on its fourth and fifth floors and water damage in other areas. The company repaired the building and continued using it, a newspaper story said.

1953: Sears opened a new department store at South Clinton Street and Rudisill Boulevard and closed the stores downtown.

1965: Glenbrook Square opened, with a Sears department store as an anchor store along with L.S. Ayres.

1982: Sears moved into its new store in Southtown Mall at south U.S. 27 and Tillman Road and closed the store at Clinton and Rudisill.

1988: Local buyers purchased the former Sears store at Clinton and Rudisill and renovated it for use as an office plaza.

1989: Sears opened its telecatalog center in its former department store at South Clinton Street and Rudisill Boulevard.

1991: Walmart became America’s largest retailer, surpassing Sears, History.com reports.

1993: Sears discontinued it “Big Book” catalog and closed its telecatalog center in Fort Wayne.

1993: Sears opened a home office department at its Glenbrook Square store to sell home computers, printers, software and equipment.

1994: Sears’ home-delivery, customer-satisfaction center, CDS, moved into the renovated former Sears store building at South Clinton Street and Rudisill Boulevard. The building had been renamed Rudisill Plaza.

1995: Sears Retail Dealer Division planned to open stores in Angola, Auburn, Bluffton, LaGrange and Nappanee, which were among 165 retail dealer stores the company planned to open that year nationwide. The stores replaced catalog stores Sears had closed in smaller communities. The retailer stores were to stock mainly hard goods, such as appliances. Sears had opened a similar store in 1993 in Warsaw.

1997: Sears opened a fine-jewelry department in November at its Southtown Mall store. The store was one of 50 stores to get fine jewelry departments that year, increasing the total to 595 Sears stores carrying fine jewelry.

2001:

* Sears, Roebuck & Co. announced it will close 89 underperforming stores, including the National Tire & Battery store in Fort Wayne, news reports said. The store closings had the greatest effect on Sears’ specialty stores, including 53 National Tire & Battery outlets, 30 Sears hardware stores, and four full-line Sears department stores, two of which housed Sears Auto Centers.

* HomeLife Furniture Corp. closed abruptly because of financial difficulties. Sears sold the furniture unit in 1998 to Citicorp Venture Capital of New York for $100 million after the growth it had hoped for failed to materialize, news reports said at the time. Sears retained a minority stake in the company.

2002:

*Sears on Jan. 26 closes its Southtown Mall store, which it owned separate from the mall.

* Sears announces it is buying catalog retailer Lands’ End, leading to a selection of Lands’ End products being offered in Sears stores.

2003: Southtown Mall closes. Later that year, the city of Fort Wayne buys former Sears Southtown Mall store to convert it into what is now the Public Safety Academy of Northeast Indiana.

2004: Work begins in the fall on demolishing Southtown Mall.

2005: Sears and Kmart merge to form Sears Holdings.

2017:

* Sears Holdings, which continued to struggle financially, closed more than 350 Sears and Kmart stores nationwide, History.com reported. Over the previous 10 years or more, the company’s revenue had declined by about 50 percent and it had laid off about 175,000 workers.

* Sears Holdings sold its Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black and Decker, news reports said.