The massive Sears store in Southland Mall, long a fixture of the shopping center in Cutler Bay and an anchor store there since even before Hurricane Andrew in 1992 forced major remodeling of the mall, is closing.
Everything left in the store is being sold at up to 70 percent off original prices.
A longtime employee working there, who didn’t want to be identified, said that she is sorry to see the store closing and that the final day for the store will be Feb. 15. A lot of clothing for men and women still remains, as do some area rugs and appliances, but some parts of the store already are empty.
Sears, a chain of department stores originally called Sears, Roebuck and Company, was founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1893 as a mail-order watch company. It began opening retail locations in 1925, starting in Chicago, and eventually became the largest retailer in the United States until Walmart and Kmart surpassed Sears in sales in 1990. It was bought by the management of the Kmart chain in 2005, becoming Sears Holdings after the merger.
Sales continued to decline and the parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Oct. 15, 2018. On Jan. 16, 2019 Sears announced that it had won its bankruptcy auction and would shrink and remain open with 425 stores nationwide. That number is expected to shrink to 182 in February.
Most store employees at the Southland Mall location were reluctant to talk about the store closing, but the customers were not. One shopper, Rebecca Miranda, an area resident, was happy with the low prices on her finds but was not happy about the reason behind them. She had an armful of clothes in one hand and was pushing her child’s stroller with the other.
“I wish that the store were staying open,” Miranda said in Spanish. “It is an older store, has been in the mall for a long time. I am sad to see it go.”
Another shopper, who was uncomfortable with questions about her shopping experience, said that she was sad to see the store close, but that her opinion didn’t seem to matter.
Sears has no other full department store locations south of Coral Gables, and it likely will be missed by shoppers and former employees.