Kmart

The sun sets on Havasu’s Kmart location Thursday evening, after an announcement by the store’s holding company that it would be closing its doors this winter.

Lake Havasu City could see its last “Blue Light Special” next month, after an announcement that Havasu’s Kmart location will become the latest in a slew of recent store closures.

An announcement came Thursday from Illinois-based Transform Holdco, which has owned the Kmart and Sears retail franchises since purchasing the chains this February. Havasu’s Kmart was the only Kmart location in Arizona slated to be closed this winter, and the company said more than 100 Sears and Kmart stores will be shuttered by this December and early January. Although Kmart has struggled nationally for the past several years, its absence will be noted by Havasu residents.

“I come here pretty often,” said Kara Lindsay, of Havasu, who was shopping at the location Thursday evening. “It’s better than going all the way out to Walmart … it’s easier, and more convenient.”

For retail shoppers, alternatives can be found at multiple small businesses, but the only similar alternative to Havasu’s Kmart would be Havasu’s Walmart Supercenter, located almost 10 miles away from Kmart’s McCulloch Boulevard location.

“(Kmart) is right in the middle of everything,” Lindsay said. “It’s the perfect spot for a store like this in town … it’s about a five-minute drive whether you live on the south side or the north side. I know they’ve closed most of the Kmarts in Arizona in the last few months, but this was the only store in town, centrally located, that had pretty much everything you needed.”

Once giants in the retail industry, Kmart and Sears have for the past several years faced increasing pressure from online competitors. While efforts have been made to save the two outlets, Transform Holdco has continued to close dozens of Sears and Kmart stores throughout the country. With a similar decline among major retailers nationwide, Kmart’s closing will follow that of Havasu’s Sears Hometown Store, which announced its own pending closure in September. The Sears Hometown stores, however, were independently owned and not affiliated with the retail stores.

“I heard they were shutting down,” said Havasu winter visitor Mike Trihey, who was shopping at the Kmart location Thursday. “It doesn’t surprise me, with the troubles Kmart and Sears have had. I think they’ve been overcome by Amazon … I actually came here tonight to buy a new radio, but they don’t even sell them here anymore. Walmart will be my alternative, but it’s probably 20 to 25 minutes away.”

Transform Holdco announced Thursday that Havasu’s Kmart location was one of 96 stores nationwide to be closed before February.

Local Kmart management deferred all questions about the closure to Transform Holdco. Attempts to contact Transform Holdco public relations officials by telephone were unsuccessful as of Thursday afternoon.

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(30) comments

Sonny

I am a boomer #me too[beam] and a very positive boomer #me too. Why should I die off? And yes I still work and bust my you know what working with steel and tech just so you know.

tomgarven

[thumbup] There are still a few positive 4 letter words floating around the internet. I happen to like the word "WORK". It is usually included along with words like, honorable, fun and most of my friends are there. Good posting Sonny.

Escapee

This isn't good for the community. Kmart provided a central place in the community that people could go to for necessities that were central. Not everyone has a car and not everyone can get to Walmart when they need to.

The idea of bringing big tech to Havasu is great but there needs to be investment by the city and acceptance by the population in Havasu of the crowd that big tech brings. I work in 'big tech' and Havasu would never support it. Plus the infrastructure isn't there yet.

Let the boomers die off and we can talk.

VA172

"Havasu would never support it". I would like to ask why? I myself spent 33+ years working for a very large tech company and yes I am a boomer. I would very much welcome a tech company here in LHC.

tomgarven

Hi Escapee:

Don't know what you escaped from but the name is certainly interesting, ha ha.

Anyway there is no doubt that the city would need to make some investment however the who, what and when can only be determined when a specific company becomes interested. No one ever said it would be easy but the addition of about 600-1000 better paying jobs for the community to me would be a very good start for our community. That certainly doesn't mean tourism wouldn't still be our primary interest or at least of equal importance.

But the tourism industry isn't known to be a wealth building economy for workers. And big tech isn't the only thing we might be interested in. Metal fabrication would certainly be welcomed as would a small engineering support staff of some larger corporation. And of course hundreds of smaller companies that employee anywhere from 200-1000 employees are varied and numerous. I think it might be time for us to take another look at the Fortune 1000 listing and see what might fit.

There are so many potential possibilities at this point in time it isn't even funny. We are just beginning to switch over from a fossil fueled economy to a renewable energy economy. Millions of new jobs are going to be created. Who knows; we could even become the new training center for these employees of the future.

That is why I volunteered to be a part of some team the city might assembly.

VA172

I am going to be way off topic here, but it is so refreshing to see people discuss a topic without ridicule, insults and name calling.

Sonny

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

tomgarven

Fun isn't it! If we try we might even end up doing something of value for our community. [smile]

Sonny

What a great discussion and with great ideas and comments. I like how the "good old boy" is described. I like the idea of training the unskilled and boost competition for good skilled people that want to work, learn and better their future. Not everyone wants to learn and advance but we need those also for certain jobs.

tomgarven

Hi Sonny:

We have been known to have a few good discussions here from time to time, ha ha. There are a lot of positive people living in our community who believe this is important and thank you very much for joining in.

As you say, training will be really important for our future workforce. Our educational systems can do a lot by providing the technology knowledge while business training will prepare the individual for the actual work. The meaning of the word 'job' is changing significantly and there certainly will be a place for everyone going forward. I am firmly convinced that there is a lot of support in our community for change.

As a passing note, I first ran into the 'good old boy network' while working to get ASU to make a home here in Havasu. Thankfully we had some wonderful people who were a part of that network that also believed that ASU would make a good neighbor. They convinced many others to support that effort.

tomgarven

To Roco: "The bus service I was trying to define is not the local bus but a service like Greyhound.".

Good point and I had not even thought about that type of bus service. I wonder if it would be economical for a company like Greyhound? Don't know of any studies in that area but maybe someone from the transportation group might want to respond.

Roco

To Tom: If I remember correctly, several years ago greyhound was supposedly coming here. I think it was around that time those ugly streetcar buses were here. They supposedly were to set up somewhere on Mesquite. Never happened though. Don't know why.

tomgarven

I do remember that and maybe someone else posting here has more information. Thank you.

Roco

Sad to seem Kmart go but the writing was on the wall a long time ago. They used to sell popular items that Walmart didn't carry. If one picked the wrong day to buy one of those items, they were out of luck and had to drive to Walmart. But over time, they stopped stocking those items and replaced them with lesser quality ones. Then, they finally stopped stocking those items. When Amazon and Ebay came about, it just meant a matter of time before closing became a reality. Since I don't like Walmart, Amazon and Ebay will become more of a fixture for my future purchases.

tomgarven

[wink]

tomgarven

No one likes to see people lose their job. And while customer service jobs are not known to be high wage or highly skilled type jobs we have a lot of those types of jobs in Havasu.

NOW is the time to start thinking seriously about the future of our community. We need to bring forth some high tech jobs into Havasu and many companies in a high tax state like our neighbors to the West are prime to move into Arizona or Texas. We need to seriously stop ignoring the type of jobs that will allow our city to prosper in the future.

Sooner or later all of these customer service types jobs and the stores that provide them will disappear with the exception of maybe Walmart.

Today most of the commerce we enjoy is delivered by UPS, FedEx or the Postal Service. If we continue to ignore what the new realities of commerce are then we will certainly fail as a city. I have been talking about this for years. Years of waiting for someone just anyone to realize what is happening. Start talking with some of the companies that might be interested in moving to Lake Havasu City. If we don't we are going to see a lot more places like our Mall and lots of empty tilt up buildings go without tenants. With the advent of new energy systems like solar, wind, wave, hydro and other forms of energy under development we don't have to look too far to find companies who would be interested in moving to a welcoming community. And the automotive industry which needs thousands of components is spending billions upon billions of dollars to bring electric vehicles to our local dealerships. And certainly we are in the early stages of things like components and parts for new transmission towers and switching gear not to mention the millions upon millions of batteries we are going to need going forward.

It is all there for us to grab if we try. Hopefully it is not too late for our community and some $20-40/hour jobs which would bring lots of money to spend in our community. You can starve people with low wage jobs until they leave town or provide jobs which allows everyone to flourish. Double manufacturing and you double the number of new homes and cars sold. Double wages and salaries and you double the amount of money people have to spend for new clothing, and evening out and dinners out and maybe some new furniture for their homes.

I sure hope someone is listening.

VA172

Tom, you may very well be 100% correct. I do however believe LHC would be wise to put a group together to talk to companies that would be willing to relocate to our city. Has the city done any advertising to try and reach out to larger companies?

I do hope the city leaders try and do something.

tomgarven

Hi VA172:

I believe there were half hearted attempts some years ago but nothing lately I can put my finger on. Not even sure who does this function at the City level anymore. Ever since our previous Mayor left town I have lost touch with City management. However, if someone started a sponsored group I would be happy to volunteer to be a part of that team.

Mike C

I am all for new business here in Havasu but many companies see challenges in locating here. One of the biggest is transportation. We are 20 miles away from a major interstate and almost 2 hours from Interstate 10. The highway is only 1 or 2 lanes and always congested. large truck traffic will be cumbersome at best. Also there is no air or rail service to the city. Lacking this infrastructure. getting big business to invest in our city will be a challenge at best.

tomgarven

Hello Mike:

There is certainly some truth in what you are saying that we don't set in the greatest transportation hub. But the difficulty is not too difficult to overcome. For example, a truck carrying in three coils of flat rolled steel could arrive any time via Interstate 40. That material can be converted into for example stamped steel products that any company can easily move by truck to interstate 40. From there it is just a few hours to anyplace in the U.S. And of course today with our existing tax laws favoring both private and corporate ownership of aircraft; most corporations have their own private jets for their executives to use.

It is not so much the transportation issue we are facing that is a problem but rather the "good old boy network" that doesn't want higher paying jobs coming to our community. Higher wages means more competition for employees from the existing labor force. We will need a least a couple of companies/industries that are willing to take unskilled employees, work within a government framework of training incentives and create a workforce of skilled employees. This certainly doable.

The other alternative is to import the labor force we need which means a company with a mobile workforce. Sales organization, computer programmers and robot and/or robot component parts come to mind.

Havasu has a lot going for it. It is a jewel in the desert and living here vers the California traffic, highly regulated and difficulty of expanding a business in that state makes us look really good.

Thank you very much for your comment. Good thought provoking words.

Roco

Tom, you are so correct on the "good ole boy system" here. The city lost a company that was willing to pay around $12.00 back around 2006. The hassle the company was going through to get things approved by the city got so bad that the company moved to Las Vegas and open a couple of plants. A lot of money lost a lot of revenue.

Roco

Tom, you are correct about new blood needed here. But the lack of transportation here is too great. No public air flights, too far away for the interstate. There isn't even a bus service here. Until this major issue is addressed, nothing along new skilled business will locate here.

tomgarven

Hi Roco:

Please see above response. And yes our airport doesn't have regular air service but the question become - do we really need regular passenger service? Corporate jets and Hollywood elites arrive all the time by private jets. Of course some manufactured parts could arrive and depart by air but that is not normally done except for very limited production runs or prototypes and services like FedEx and UPS can handle those needs well.

And of course a new bus service will be coming soon according to the transportation study group which recently published a survey which by now is most likely completed. I have personally recommended that we jump directly to self-driving vehicles from companies like Google, Waymo and others. Pick up your phone, call for service and it appears at your doorstep. Our community does NOT have the type of infrastructure that lends itself to a fixed transportation style hub[s]. We are spread out along a bunch of horseshoe shaped streets with most ending up at the lake, ha ha.

Good to see you commenting again Roco. I have missed your comments.

Roco

Hi Tom. The bus service I was trying to define is not the local bus but a service like Greyhound. Being from the Midwest, Greyhound , continental, etc has services that travel from the rural area to the urban area on a regular basis. People working at an air force base located a couple hours away could take a bus in the early morning, noon or late night to jobs offered there. I'm just saying if workers could come from Kingman or further out, that could help get some skilled workers to the businesses that may be located here. Maybe? With a regular air service, that could be more attractive for employees locating here. Saving time and hassle of having to drive to Phoenix or Las Vegas.

gregorcarp

I could see this coming during my last visit there a couple of weeks ago. No electronics department, very little automotive products, etc. Too bad; I shopped there fairly frequently.

tomgarven

[sad]

8957

I am very sorry to hear this. My father bought stock in the company back when it was Kresge, and it was a very good investment for many years. In Michigan, where I grew up, a family outing to Kmart was fun for all. First it was, "Who wants to go to Kmart?" As the company grew, it became, "Which Kmart do you want to go to?" When the store opened here in Havasu, saving us a drive to Kingman for Kmart shopping, it was a major benchmark in town growth. (Is there still a Kmart in Kingman?) It is still my first consideration for just about anything I am looking for. Another major empty building in town to go with Hastings and Golden Corral. A sad turn of events.

tomgarven

I know what you are saying 8957.

I also watched it fail over the last 20 years. First it was bought and everyone said it had too much debt to survive. Then Sears and KMart joined hands making the matter ever worse. Then the store closings started since the corporation was carrying too much debt.

It is a perfect example of a failed capitalism experiment which killed off a store with lots of wonderful products. I once shopped at Sears for all of my Craftsman tools. I then shopped at KMart for almost everything else. Today we will most likely end up with neither one which is truly sad.

8957

Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man would only wear boxer shorts from Kmart. And only from a specific Kmart in Cincinnati. Wonder if that one is still there? My wife would take our grandson to the "secret grandma's table" at Kmart. It was actually the clearance section.

tomgarven

[beam]

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