Manistee Sears to close in spring

The Manistee Sears Homestore location will be closing in the near future, and inventory will be discounted throughout the next few months. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — As Sears stores across the nation continue to struggle amid the corporation’s attempt to stay afloat, the Manistee Sears Homestore location will be ending a long history in the community and is set to close permanently.

The Manistee location recently began the liquidation process and will be closing in the near future. While no official closing date has been set, liquidation is expected to take approximately two months.

The store does not have an owner, and is operated by transitional manager Richard Jaschke.

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. has not filed for bankruptcy and is not part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Sears Holdings Corporation. It is a publicly owned company that separated from Sears Holdings in 2012.

“It remains business as usual at all of our locations, which include more than 750 retail stores in 49 states across the nation, which are operated by us, our dealer owners and franchisees,” it said in a statement issued by Sears Hometown Stores.

The Manistee store currently has two employees, and merchandise will be discounted up to 70 percent off to clear out inventory. The business has operated in the community for decades, and is another Sears store among many that have closed over the past few years.

The retailer that began as a mail order catalog in the 1880s has been in a slow death spiral, hobbled by the Great Recession and then overwhelmed by rivals both down the street and across the internet.

Sears Holdings Corp., which also runs Kmart, joins the list of retail brands taken over by hedge funds that collapsed under the weight of debt forced upon them. Not all have made it out of bankruptcy: Toys R Us shuttered all its stores in June, about nine months after filing for bankruptcy protection.

A hedge fund run by Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert said it submitted a last-minute bid, valued at $4.4 billion, on Dec. 28 to keep the struggling retailer from being liquidated.

Under Lampert, Sears has bought time by spinning off businesses and putting on the block the brands that had grown synonymous with the company, such as Craftsman. The company’s biggest shareholder, Lampert loaned out his own money and put together deals to keep the company afloat and to turn whatever profit he could for ESL hedge fund.

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retailer says it has accepted Eddie Lampert’s bid through an affiliate of his ESL hedge fund that could keep 425 stores open and save tens of thousands of workers, according to a hearing on Tuesday at the bankruptcy court in White Plains, N.Y. The bid now requires Lampert to deposit $120 million by 4 p.m. Wednesday through his hedge fund.

The revised bid is not official, and will be evaluated in an auction set for Jan. 14 that will compete with other bids from liquidators looking to shut it down.

ESL said that should its bid be accepted, it expects the company to emerge from bankruptcy.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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