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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Sears Ala Moana's 327 workers will be losing their jobs earlier than expected.
Sears said today that it will close its once-flagship Hawaii store in June and will begin liquidation sales in March.
"I'm not happy," said Honolulu resident Nyna Timas, a longtime Sears Ala Moana customer.
"They are taking away a lot of jobs."
Another longtime shopper added:
"It's sad because it's been there for years and that was the first store that opened up at Ala Moana," said Honolulu resident Jeannie Wokasch.
The retailer said the 300,000-square-foot store was one of 11 it sold last year to Ala Moana's owner, General Growth Properties.
GGP recently exercised its option to move up the closing date and wants to replace the department store with smaller, more profitable specialty retailers.
"There's a transformation going on in America and we're moving away from places that are general merchandise stores toward more specialty stores," said Bob Sigall, author of the book "The Companies We Keep."
Sigall says that Sears was Ala Moana's first anchor tenant back in 1959 and played a big role in attracting other world-class retailers to the center.
"Ala Moana Center is one of the largest shopping centers in the world and Sears is what made it all possible," he said.
Workers will have the opportunity to apply for positions at other Hawaii Sears and Kmart stores. But it's unclear how many openings those stores have.