HACKENSACK, N.J. — Sears, the archaic but once iconic department store that has towered over Hackensack’s downtown since the early 1930s — the decade defined by a global economic and political crisis that led up to World War II — is poised to be the second-to-last such department store in New Jersey to shutter.
While no formal announcement was made confirming the closure, a pair of job listings were posted on its official website Tuesday for a 40-hour-per-week cashier and backroom temp with the words “store closing” in all caps beside an asterisk.
When reached by email Wednesday, Larry Costello, the public relations director of Transformco SR Brands LLC for Sears/Kmart, an American privately held company that formed in February 2019 to acquire part of the assets of Sears Holdings Corporation, said “we’ll decline comment.”
Besides the Sears in Rockaway, which also has job listings on its website related to a closing store, the only Sears left in the Garden State after Hackensack’s pending closure is the Jersey City Sears at the Newport Center Mall.
Immense debt forced Sears to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018. Upon filing for bankruptcy that year, Sears announced plans to close 142 stores and commence liquidation sales. The department store — which sells brand-name and signature appliances, tools, home goods, and apparel among other items —was once the biggest retailer in the United States until it was outshone by Walmart 30 years ago following other such competition like online giant Amazon, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot. At the time of its financial restructuring almost two years ago, Sears declared the closures of loss-making stores and redirected its focus on the operation of well-performing ones.
The same year the chain filed for bankruptcy, Sears shuttered its locations in Middletown and Deptford, in addition to a Kmart in Glassboro. That same year, the Sears at the Paramus Park Mall also vacated the premises after it was sold following a real estate venture with the mall’s owner, Brookfield Properties. After serving as a longtime fixture since 1974, it is now home to Stew Leonard’s, which marked its much-anticipated opening last September with a visit from Martha Stewart. The gourmet grocery store’s new home at the Paramus Park Mall marks the chain’s first New Jersey location and the store’s seventh location after its six other tri-state area stores, with include three in New York and another three in Connecticut.
When Sears first opened in Hackensack on October 27, 1932 at 436 Main Street, what had become the city’s landmark department store decades later was the largest of its kind in all of Bergen County, according to the county’s historic site survey, and it’s population was almost half of what it is today.