WILKES-BARRE — Two days after The Bon-Ton Stores announced it is closing all of its stores, Sears also announced it will shutter its Wyoming Valley Mall store, which will leave two anchor spots empty at the mall.
According to a news release from Sears spokesman Howard Riefs, the company told its associates Thursday morning that it had made “the difficult, but necessary decision to close the Sears store and Sears Auto Center in Wilkes-Barre.”
The store will close to the public in mid-July and the Sears Auto Center in mid-May. Until then, they will remain open for customers. The store will begin its liquidation sale April 27.
“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and have accelerated the closing of unprofitable stores as previously announced,” Riefs said. “This is not an effort solely aimed at cost savings, but is part of a strategy we have been executing against as many of our larger stores are too big for our needs.”
The mall is owned by Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which owns or manages 21 malls in the Mid-Atlantic, South and Great Lakes regions.
On Wednesday, PREIT officials said they were already in discussions with several possible tenants to replace Bon-Ton. Reached Thursday after the Sears news broke, a spokesperson said the company was meeting regarding that development.
For Sears, Riefs said having fewer stores — and the right format — will help the company bring Sears Holdings to a size and place to meet the realities of a changing retail world.
“We understand that members may be disappointed when we close a store, but our Shop Your Way membership platform, websites and mobile apps allow us to maintain these valued relationships long after a store closes its doors,” Riefs said. “As a result, we hope to retain a portion of the sales previously associated with this store by maintaining our relationships with the members who shopped this location.”
The number of associates affected was not available. Those employees who are eligible will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores.
At Bon-Ton, meanwhile, officials announced Thursday that its going-out-of-business sales will begin Friday.
The company, which has dual headquarters in York County and Milwaukee, Wisc., has stores in 24 states, largely in the Northeast and Midwest. There are two stores in Luzerne County — at the Wyoming Valley Mall and at the Midway Shopping Center in Wyoming.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.