Grayling Kmart slated to close its doors to customers on Dec. 15 after liquidation
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A pillar for retail sales in the community, the Grayling Kmart will be closing near the end of the year.
The Grayling Kmart store will be closed on Sunday, December 15. The store currently has 35 employees, but is hiring additional associates to work through upcoming liquidation sales and the holiday season.
“After careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Kmart stores in Belleville, Hastings, Menominee, Midland, Clio, Grayling, Oscoda and Marine City, Michigan,” said Larry Costello, the public relations director for Transformco, the current owner of Sears and Kmart stores. “The liquidation sales are expected to begin in mid-September and the stores are planned to close by mid-December. We encourage customers to continue shopping on Kmart.com for all their product needs.”
The first lease between the Grayling Plaza and the Kmart Corporation, which was then based in Troy, Michigan, was recorded on November 25, 1983, according to records obtained from the Crawford County Register of Deeds Office. The lease was for 25 years plus a provision for a 10-year extension.
The stores were some of the last standing in Kmart’s home state after years of decline and hundreds of store closings nationwide. Sears Holding Co. filed for bankruptcy in October 2018.
In February, former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert struck a deal to buy Sears’ assets out of bankruptcy and keep about 400 stores open under a new entity, Transform Holdco, also known as Transformco.
Lampert, who relinquished the CEO role when the company filed for bankruptcy, was the company's largest shareholder and creditor at the time of the bankruptcy.
A number of Kmart stores in Michigan are slated to close next month.
After the stores shut their doors in December, that will leave just three Kmart locations in Michigan: Waterford Township and Warren in the metro Detroit area and Marshall near Battle Creek.
Customers outside the Grayling Kmart store last week were not surprised to hear the news about the store closing.
Deane Fox of Grayling said it comes down to a lack of items and products the store does not carry and drives customers elsewhere.
“I think too many people go to Walmart and stuff like that. There is more of a selection,” Fox said. “I went in there to find three things and I couldn’t find any of them.”
John Reynolds, who has lived in Grayling over 40 years and is a retired Weyerhauser employee, said closing the store will divert dollars to surrounding communities.
“There is nothing here now, so we’re just going to have to drive to Houghton Lake or Gaylord,” Reynolds said. “That’s the only answer to it. What are you going to do? That’s just the way things are.”
Rita Doss of Mio was saddened to hear the hear the store was closing.
“I would rather it didn’t,” she said.
Joanne Maio Spruth, who is from Sears, Michigan, but has a second smaller residence in Mio, was not caught off guard after hearing the store was closing.
“It’s not a surprise,” she said. “I’ve been expecting that to happen.”
The announcement that the store is closing further fuels speculation that the Tractor Supply Co. is opening a store or warehouse in Grayling.
Jobs for Tractor Supply Co. are listed as being available on online sites for people seeking employment.
A customer service agent for the Brentwood, Tennessee-based retail chain said there was a store coming to Grayling, but could not confirm a grand opening date.
“It’s still in the works,” the costumer service agent said.
Grayling City Manager Doug Baum said Tractor Supply Co. has been scouting Grayling for a store for quite awhile.
“They’ve been looking for a location in Grayling for about eight years,” he said.
The Grayling Big Boy closed in February and nothing has been done at that location. The Hallmark store in Grayling closed last month.
City officials hope new businesses will fill the niche in the community and maintain paychecks for people impacted.
“Obviously, it’s shame to see those businesses close and we lose those jobs, but hopefully there will new business going into that location to fill those positions,” Baum said.