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Kmart to close Thief River Falls store

The KMart store located at 3000 Highway 10 East in Moorhead. A similar store in Thief River Falls will close in January (David Samson / The Forum)

THIEF RIVER FALLS -- The Kmart store in Thief River Falls will close in January, leaving the region with fewer options for shopping.

Sears Holdings Co. announced Thursday that Thief River Falls was one of 45 Kmart locations it plans to close this winter. The company also announced 18 Sears stores would close in January.

“In the process, as previously announced, we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members,” Sears Holdings said in a news release, adding the closings are part of a strategy to “right-size our footprint in number and size.”

Thief River Falls’ store was the only Kmart or Sears listed Thursday for closures in Minnesota or North Dakota. The Grand Forks Kmart and Sears did not appear on the list.

The announcement comes just a day after the company announced deep discounts, some as high as 50 percent, at Sears and Kmart stores across the country through Thanksgiving weekend.

Like other brick-and-mortar retailers, Sears Holdings has struggled in the past to compete with online competition. It has released several lists of stores the company plans to close in the coming months.

That included Sears in Fargo that closed in the spring.

The closing in Thief River Falls is another hit to the region’s shopping options. J.C. Penney closed its location in the city’s downtown in late September.

The city has other shopping options such as boutiques, Wal-Mart and Maurices, but customers who want more choices must either drive to Grand Forks or shop online.

Devils Lake also has a Kmart, but it was not listed among the closures.

Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer said it was unfortunate news to hear about the closing, but  he gave an optimistic view on the situation. The closing of Kmart could open the door for another business to take over the building at 1547 Highway 59 S.

“One closed door could mean an open door for another,” he said.

Management at the Thief River Falls Kmart deferred questions to corporate media relations, which did not return a message left by the Herald before press time.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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