Despite odds, locals fighting Kmart closure

Hundreds of employees and residents are appealing to corporate officials to reconsider their decision to close Carson City's Super Kmart store.

But Kmart spokeswoman Susan Dennis said Thursday there is little hope.

"We have noted people's concern and interest, but the process has been completed," she said.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2002 and announced the closing of 326 U.S. stores last week. Carson City's Kmart, on the north end of town, is among them.

Dennis said a hearing to determine the plan's adequacy is scheduled for late this month in Chicago Bankruptcy Court.

"When we submit this closure proposal to court, they can approve or reject it," Dennis said. "Once approved, we'll start the clearance sales. The average time for those will range between 60 and 90 days. The stores will probably close in late March or April.

"The whole purpose is to stabilize our business and ensure our base is strong and competitive, so we can move forward with confidence with stores we have."

The decision to close stores was based on a number of factors, including profitability, local competition and the lease structure.

"If reorganization is approved, those leases go back to property owners. We are no longer responsible," she said.

Despite the odds, Carson City residents and Kmart employees are fighting for their store.

The Nevada Appeal has received more than 200 calls about Kmart since the announcement last week.

Virginia Dempsey, a cake decorator in the store's bakery-deli, said she's heard hundreds of complaints.

"The outcry has been so loud, I decided to print flyers telling people what to do if they wanted their voices heard," she said.

"My sister and I made the flyer, and now a lot of people are making copies," she said. "I don't know if this is going to make a difference, but if we do nothing, we're just accepting it."

Mary Hamilton, a Kmart baker, said seniors and disabled patrons will be most hurt by the closure because the store is so accessible.

Those customers will have to go to Wal-Mart for the same types of services, a major challenge for many of these people.

"It's heartbreaking," she said. "We're going to lose half a million dollars in this community, and I think he should put some pressure on Kmart, to find out what's going on."

Dempsey conceded the economy is bad, but she said she also feels Carson City is a growing community.

"They're making huge mistake, closing this store," she said. "It's going to severely limit shopping in Carson City."

Apparently, city leaders agree.

Mayor Ray Masayko said a letter has been submitted to Kmart arguing against the closure.

"I continue to urge people to write or call to express their dismay," he said. "We're doing our best. We care and are concerned, and if we can get an audience with the decision makers, we will do everything we can to help."

"We've made ourselves available to Kmart officials," he said. "If they know of something we can do or if there is an issue we can work on with them, we will do that."


To voice your opinion with Kmart officials:

-- Visit their Web site at Click on "Customer Care," then go to Kmart Corp. Feedback.

-- Write the Kmart Customer Service Department

Kmart Corp.

3100 W. Big Beaver Road

Troy, Mich. 48084


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