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Sears Set to Close Watchung Store, Report Says

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Credits: Sean Conklin
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WATCHUNG, NJ — Struggling retailer Sears, which announced in January that it would close 150 non-profitable stores (108 Kmart and 42 Sears locations), to stem its mounting losses, is set to close the iconic Watchung store at Terrill Road on U.S. Route 22 East, according to a report by Business Insider. The company has not yet issued a press release on the latest round of store closings.

The Business Insider report, based on an internal company memo, stated that most of the stores are expected to shut in September, although no formal date was given for the Watchung store's closing.

In May, Seritage Growth Properties, which leases 224 wholly-owned properties to Sears Holdings, went before the Watchung Planning Board to discuss redevelopment of the property. Among the issues was the fate of the building's famed 16-by-10-foot "Legend of Watchung" mural on its main level.

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Sears, once a powerful retailing giant, had 3,500 stores in its chain in 2010. The continued closures of unprofitable stores have dwindled the number to roughly 1,200 nationwide. 

"We are taking strong, decisive actions today to stabilize the company and improve our financial flexibility in what remains a challenging retail environment," said Edward S. Lampert, Chairman & CEO of Sears Holdings, when he announced store closings in January. 

"Going forward, Sears will be more focused on our Shop Your Way membership platform, a network with tens of millions of active members, and our Integrated Retail strategy in order to be a more nimble, innovative and relevant retailer that is better able to provide value and convenience to our customers," Mr. Lampert continued.

The Sears chain of department stores was founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1886. It started as a mail ordering catalog company specializing in the sale of watches. The company expanded its offerings, and in 1888 introduced the famed Sears Catalog, which eventually grew to over 500 pages from which customers could buy goods by mail order. Sears Roebuck began opening retail locations in 1925 in both rural and urban America. By the 1990s, the company eliminated its catalog sales, which had become unprofitable as internet shopping gained in popularity.

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