Rutgers Plaza Kmart To Close In Late July; Clearance Sales On

The Rutgers Plaza Kmart is slated to close in late July, according to a spokesman from parent company Sears Holdings.

The Rutgers Plaza Kmart is the apparent latest victim in Sears Holdings’ trimming-down effort with the confirmation May 7 that the store will close in late July.

Rumors about the store’s closing have been flying around the township for the past week or so. The township Kmart has not appeared in any of the several lists released since last year by parent Sears Holdings of stores on the chopping block.

“We are making the difficult, but necessary decision to close the Kmart store in Somerset,” Howard Riefs, Sears Holdings’ corporate communications director said in an email May 7. “The store will close to the public in late July 2018. Until then, it will remain open for customers. The store will begin its liquidation sale on May 10.”

Riefs declined to say how many people are employed at the township store, but did say that “those associates that are eligible will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores.”

The nearest Sears store is located in New Brunswick, on Route 1.

Riefs said many Kmart stores, such as the one in Somerset, are just too large.

“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and have accelerated the closing of unprofitable stores as previously announced,” he wrote. “This is not an effort solely aimed at cost savings but is part of a strategy we have been executing against as many of our larger stores are too big for our needs.”

“Having fewer stores – and the right format – will help us bring Sears Holdings to a size and place to meet the realities of the changing retail world,” Riefs wrote.

The 98,000-square-foot Kmart is last department store in the township. The other one, Stein Mart, which was located in Franklin Towne Square on Route 27 in Franklin Park, closed in October 2017.

Kmart is the co-anchor at Rutgers Plaza, along with the Stop and Shop grocery store. Rutgers Plaza has been plagued over the last several years with a number of store closings, including Dress Barn, Office Depot, Joanne’s Hallmark and Radio Shack.

A Crunch Fitness franchise opened in October 2016 in part of the space formerly occupied by Stop and Shop, and two new restaurants – Flame Kabob House and Moral’s Village Hot Pot Restaurant – are slated to open. The former will take up about 1,500 square feet, while the latter will occupy 4,000 square feet.

Still, there are six store slots open – not counting the Kmart space – amounting to nearly 36,000 square feet. The largest space available is 20,810 square feet adjacent to Crunch Fitness, the site of the former Office Depot.

A spokesperson for North Plainfield-based Levin Management, the property’s owner, could not immediately be reached for comment on May 7.


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