In Flatbush, a beloved Sears department store has been in business since 1932, its Art Deco building a relic of a bygone era that is now a protected city monument.
But signs point to the end of the line for the chain’s department store, known for its architecture and its 100-foot tower on the corner of Beverly Road and Bedford Avenue.
Among them: flashy sales posters plastered on the front door. “EVERYTHING MUST DISAPPEAR!” reads one at the entrance. Another reads: “FURNITURE, FIXTURES AND EQUIPMENT FOR SALE”.
Sears is The advertisement jobs for “Store Closing-Brooklyn” and a company specializing in retail store closeouts has the Beverly Road store on its Sears “Store closure list”. Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018.
The store – the last remaining Sears outpost in New York City – has been a shopping staple for generations of families in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
“When we lose good things it becomes heartbreaking,” said Lorna Phillips, 60, a clothing designer from Jamaica who has lived in Flatbush for 38 years.
She said the closure will be a major loss for the community and that she will fail to find any good deals. Over the years, it got low prices on everything from perfume, blankets, and a vacuum cleaner to a DVD player when the technology first came out in the 1990s.
A Kmart located in the basement of the three-story building is also expected to close. Kmart – a brand that merged with Sears – closed its last Manhattan outpost in July, which is now slated to be replaced by a Wegman’s grocery store.
Since Sears’ reign as a retail juggernaut peaked in the 1980s, declining sales have resulted in the closure of hundreds of Sears stores across the country. Sears and Kmart’s parent company, Transformco, did not respond to THE TOWN’s request for comment.
Sears is closing its last store in its home state of Illinois, CNBC reported Thursday.
A Sears cashier told THE TOWN that workers expect the Brooklyn store to close in December.
The Flatbush Sears temporarily closed at the start of the pandemic, and in April 2020 its expansive parking lot became one of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s coronaviruses. test sites aimed at communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
In 2012, the building received a landmark designation of the City Monuments Preservation Commission, protecting its facade due to its historical importance. This means that even after Sears is gone, the building – including its separate SEARS limestone tower towering above Flatbush – must remain as is and cannot be demolished.
Originally named Sears, Roebuck & Company, the department store opened on November 5, 1932. Eleanor Roosevelt, while her husband was still New York governor and presidential candidate, addressed hundreds of people at the the inauguration.
Roosevelt allegedly turned the key to open the store and made the first purchase “a pair of baby booties,” according to blanket in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper.
Almost a century later, as the store is about to close, children’s clothing is still sold there.
Local Natalie Acosta walked past the Sears on Thursday as she walked her 7-year-old daughter home from school. Acosta said they will miss out on the affordable prices.
“I got his winter stuff, a full ski suit, for literally $ 3,” said Acosta, 34.
She added that she had seen the store go from being a commercial activity to having a hard time attracting customers during the seven years she lived in the neighborhood.
“I’m surprised it even lasted this long,” she said.
“I would love it to be booming like before, because it’s a big store,” she added.
Acosta said she hoped a cinema would open in her place. Her daughter, Nayafelix, said she would like another store with “more toys”.
Phillips said anything that comes after Sears should benefit the community.
“If they want to bring back stores, bring something fancier or something that will always serve the neighborhood in a good way,” she said.