The Kmart in Martinez has survived the nationwide closing of Kmart stores as the company restructures under bankrupcy.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The blue light has blown in Aiken, but it continues to blinkbrightly in Martinez.
Kmart Corp. promises that the only impact the closing of its Aiken location will have on Columbia County's store is the possibility of more employees.
In an effort to bring the retail chain out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the end of April, Kmart Corp. announced Tuesday that it is closing 326 stores. Included in the list of stores to be closed is the Big K in Aiken off Silver Bluff Road.
A spokeswoman for Kmart Corp. said the Augusta area's remaining stores, including the Martinez location off Washington Road, will remain open at least through 2003.
"These closures are part of an effort to emerge from Chapter 11 and make Kmart a stronger and healthier company," said Anita Schmid of the Kmart Corp. headquarters media department in Troy, Mich. "These locations will complete our announcement of closures for the remainder of the year."
It was about this time last year that Kmart Corp. decided to close 284 poorly performing stores nationwide. None of those closures was in the Augusta area.
In addition to Aiken, Kmart Corp. will be closing two other locations in South Carolina and 16 stores in Georgia, including locations in Athens and Savannah.
Despite the magnitude of the closings, Brian Quinsey, the executive director of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, said he believes they will have no effect on Columbia County's residents and businesses.
"It won't have an impact on our economy at all in Columbia County," Quinsey said. "Unless there are employees of that store that live in Columbia County, we should feel no effects."
The Aiken Kmart employs 75 associates that Schmid promises will be taken care of.
"We're going to be establishing a re-employment support center," Schmid said. "We'll be assisting our associates find work at other Kmarts in the area, possibly Martinez, if they choose to, or we'll help them find employment elsewhere."
Kmart Corp. will seek final approval for the closures Jan. 28 at federal bankruptcy court in Chicago. If approved, Schmid said the Aiken store will begin liquidating merchandise and will close within two to three months.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.