Hawaii's first Kmart store to close in March; 141 workers affected

Published: Jan. 13, 2016 at 1:24 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii's first Kmart store will be closing its doors in late March. The Iwilei store opened in 1992 and has 141 employees, most of them part-time, hourly workers. It was recently sold by Sears Holding Corp. to Seritage Growth Partners which, as part the agreement, has decided to terminate the store's lease early.

Workers tells Hawaii News Now that Tuesday's announcement caught them off guard when they arrived to work.

"That's crazy," Kmart Employee Kawika Fox said. "I don't know, hopefully I find a job afterwards."

Loyal Kmart shoppers were also surprised to receive the news.

"We didn't hear anything about it," said customer Berna Mariano. "Nothing on the internet or anything there wasn't any sign actually."

"I'm really surprised it's closing down. I wish it would stay open," said shopper Jeth Rey. "They really have great prices and I know it will be (hard) for the employees, you don't know where they'll go later, it's just crazy."

The news comes in the heels of Macy's announcement in early January. After disappointing holiday sales, the department store giant plans to shut down more than 3 dozen stores nationwide, including its Kailua location.

Real Estate Expert Stephany Sofos says the retail industry is evolving and change can mean good things in the long run.

"Everything about brick and mortar is about a new experience and everything today is about entertainment and excitement to draw people in whether it's by food, entertainment or the right store to capture your market," Sofos said.

She believes the future is bright for the dozens of workers being laid off.

"A good retail employee will find a good job quickly in Hawaii because there's demand for retail workers, tremendous demand," said Sofos. "Stores can't fill the employees right now. So if they're good at what they do, if they've had some experience, they shouldn't have a problem getting another job."

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