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Kmart closing concerns West Town business owners

Posted: July 6, 2012 - 9:30am  |  Updated: July 6, 2012 - 9:36am
Jim Lovekamp and his grandson, Jack Swan, leave Wild Birds Unlimited in West Town Market Square. Business owners in the shopping center are concerned about the closing of Kmart.  Photo By LaTina Emerson
Photo By LaTina Emerson
Jim Lovekamp and his grandson, Jack Swan, leave Wild Birds Unlimited in West Town Market Square. Business owners in the shopping center are concerned about the closing of Kmart.

Rick Milton doesn’t look forward to seeing Kmart close in West Town Market Square shopping center on Washington Road.

The owner of Rick Milton Photography is among several owners concerned about how their businesses will fare when the anchor tenant leaves the shopping center.

“It’s absolutely awful. With them being our anchor, I just think that when they leave, a lot of traffic is going to go with it,” Milton said. “I’m not looking forward to it closing. You go into a shopping center, and you pay shopping center rent for the exposure. You have an anchor in your shopping center, and that’s supposed to bring the street traffic and sidewalk traffic in. We’re not going to have anything to do that now.”

The Kmart at 3830 Wash­ing­ton Road, one of three Kmarts in the area, is expected to close near the end of Sep­tem­ber, according to Sears Holdings officials. It will begin liquidating merchandise Sunday.

Ken Badke, the owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in the shopping center, said he is “very disappointed that Kmart is closing.” He has a loyal clientele, he said, but Kmart brought in foot traffic and new customers. Other stores in the shopping center depend on Kmart for customers, he said.

His business has been in the shopping center for seven years, after moving from Augusta West shopping center.

“I’m very concerned at what may come in there and how long that space may stay empty,” Badke said.

The Washington Road location is great, but when his lease is up in three years, Badke said, he might consider moving, depending on how things turn out with the Kmart retail space.

On the other hand, Neil Grice, a pharmacist at Martinez Apothecary, a pharmacy in the shopping center, said the closing of Kmart could affect his business in a positive way.

“Some of those patients are going to have to have a pharmacy to go to,” Grice said. “We’ll be another choice for the folks that have been going to Kmart that want to still stay in this area to get their medications filled.”

Still, the closing could be a drawback because the store has been a fixture for more than three decades, he said.

“It could potentially hurt the whole shopping center as far as traffic goes,” Grice said.

When the Food Lion grocery store on Evans to Locks Road closed in February, it was the anchor of its shopping center. Salon Pur hair salon felt the impact of the closing, said owner Stephanie Holmes.

“Now we have no walk-in traffic,” she said. “I have my clientele, but not too much extra.”

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