Sears, one of two anchor stores at Harford Mall in Bel Air, will be closing in February, with liquidation to begin next month.
“After careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Sears store in Bel Air," Larry Costello, the public relations director for Transform Holdco — the parent company of Sears — said in an emailed statement.
"The liquidation sale begins in mid-December and the store is planned to close by mid-February. We encourage customers to continue shopping on sears.com for all their product needs.”
Gordon Scharpf, of Abingdon, said while shopping at the mall Thursday that he’s sad to see Sears go.
“I shop here a lot,” he said. “This mall, there’s not a lot here for men. This was the last holdout.”
Scharpf said he like to see the space occupied by another department store like Boscov’s or something similar.
Sally McCarthy of Joppatowne also said she would like to see Boscov’s replace Sears. She doesn’t get to Harford Mall very often, but she likes shopping at Lands’ End, which has a shop inside Sears.
Lands’ End, which Sears bought for $1.9 billion in 2002, had spun off from Sears in 2014, but continued to rent space in stores across the country. It had already begun discounting merchandise in its shops and the brand will no longer be found in Sears stores by January, said Jack Ciampi, a public relations specialist for Lands’ End.
“Instead, you can find standalone Lands’ End stores in various locations, including the Hunt Valley Towne Centre,” Ciampi said.
McCarthy said she wasn’t surprised to hear Sears was closing.
“I’ve been expecting it, with everything I’ve been reading,” said McCarthy, who was shopping with a friend at the mall Thursday.
While the closure of Sears will hurt Harford Mall, it’s not that important to her because she doesn’t get there often. And once it closes, she can either order Lands’ End online or go to the store in Hunt Valley.
CBL Properties, which manages Harford Mall, has been working on plans to fill the space once the former retail giant leaves.
“In anticipation of the closure — we’ve anticipated it based on what’s happened with Sears over the last couple years — we have been proactive and engaging in discussions with a number of retailers and other users,” said Harford Mall General Manager Lauri Altman.
Altman said it’s too early to discuss specifics of what might replace Sears.
Sears owns the space it occupies at Harford Mall, as does the mall’s other anchor tenant, Macy’s, Altman said.
What happens with that space is part of the ongoing discussions and negotiations.
“Then we can announce what we’re going to do,” Altman said.
CBL has a long track record of successfully replacing or redeveloping anchor locations that has resulted in a win-win for the consumer and the mall properties, she said.
“Over the last four years, CBL has taken anchor locations and turned them into retail, dining and entertainment destinations that have completely changed the dynamic of the mall property,” Altman said.
Shopping isn’t what is used to be, she said.
“Reinvent, repurpose, restyle," Atlman said. "Retail isn’t what it was 30 years ago, or 20 years ago. It’s exciting. But we have to do what’s best for the community, for the mall and look at all aspects that would benefit everybody. There’s not a pool of hundreds of retailers because, unfortunately, the retail industry keeps losing retailers.”
Sears closed 182 stores after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018.