Last day at Sears Ala Moana bittersweet for employees, customers
Department store was one of the mall's original anchor tenants
Sears Ala Moana closed its doors for good Sunday. It's the bittersweet end of the department store's 54-year run at the state's largest mall.
Greg Kaneko has worked for Sears for 41 years and says he never thought this day would come.
"It's very sad to see it empty this way because this store was once the number-one store and the world's largest retailer," he said.
The 340,000-square-foot store was also one of Ala Moana's original anchor tenants when it opened in 1959.
Its closure is leaving some longtime customers at a loss.
Lorraine Caceres said, "Right now, it's sad that it looks so empty and that they are gone. It won't hit me until maybe a month or two months from now when I need something. Then I have to find out where I'm going to go to find it."
More than 300 employees are losing their jobs. Most of are being laid off. Some are transferring to other stores. A handful are retiring, like Kaneko.
"If the store's still open, I'd still be working cause I'm a little short of retirement age," he said. "But you know, they're closing so I got to go."
But that doesn't mean the memories have to go as well.
Kaneko said, "Sears might be closing today, but the friendships that I made will always be with me."
Most of the 19 shops within Sears Ala Moana have found new locations.
General Growth Properties, the mall's owner, plans to renovate the space into several stores, including the state's first Bloomingdale's.
The Sears at Kauai's Kukui Grove Center will close July 1. It's business as usual at all other Sears stores across Hawaii.
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