Sears closing in 2 weeks

Store hasn’t had profitable year since 2010

The store that was the first to announce plans to become what would be the Logan Valley Mall will close in less than two weeks.

The last day of business for that Sears store will be March 3, said Dan May, mall general manager.

Rumblings of a mall coming to Altoona began in December 1964 when Sears, Roebuck and Co. announced it had signed a lease for a new building at Route 220 and Goods Lane in what would be known as the Altoona Shopping Plaza.

On Oct. 2, 1965, Frank Pasquerilla, president of Crown American Corp., announced that the Logan Valley Mall, originally planned as an open mall shopping center, would be constructed as an enclosed, air conditioned and heated mall.

What would become the mall opened in November 1965 as an open-air shopping center with Sears, Weis Markets and a few small shops. In 1966, J.C. Penney was constructed, and the mall was enclosed.

Efforts are underway to find a replacement for the long-time anchor.

“We hope to recapture the space. We have several other retailers looking at it. We could reconfigure it into smaller spaces or lease it the way it is,” May said.

Blair County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Joe Hurd said the closing is a hit on the local business community.

“As a county with a considerable stake in the economic viability of retail, there’s no question that we need to be concerned when a store like Sears closes. It’s equally concerning from a tourism perspective since people from great distances travel here to shop. It impacts retail and hospitality. The scary question for all of us who recognize the value of a vibrant retail community is: ‘Who’s next?'” Hurd said.

Sears Holdings announ­ced in October it was entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Since filing for bankruptcy, the retailer announced plans to close more than 260 of its 700 stores, or more than a third of its locations,

The company’s corporate parent, which also owns Kmart, had 687 stores and 68,000 employees at the time of the filing. At its peak in 2012, its stores numbered 4,000.

Sears was hard hit during the recession and was unable in its aftermath to keep up with shifting consumer trends and strong rivals.

It hasn’t had a profitable year since 2010 and has suffered 11 straight years of declining sales.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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