BELLINGHAM - The Sears store and auto center at Bellis Fair mall will close their doors in early 2013, the store's manager said Monday, Oct. 29.
The space will be filled by a Sports Authority store next year.
Sears liquidation sales will begin early next month, according to a corporate spokesman.
The store's 92 employees were told Tuesday, Oct. 23, that the store will close in late January, Sears spokesman Chris Brathwaite said. Eligible employees will receive severance pay and may apply for openings at other Sears or Kmart stores.
"We have had our official store-closing meeting," Bellis Fair Sears store manager Noelle Jorgensen said. "We've known since March of this year."
Construction will begin on a new Sports Authority store at that location as soon as Sears vacates it, Bellis Fair Senior General Manager Janet Henderson said. The sporting goods store is scheduled to open in late 2013.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. completed the sale of 11 stores nationwide in April to General Growth Properties. The real estate investment trust owns Bellis Fair mall and the other Sears locations that were part of the $270 million deal.
The Bellis Fair store is the only Sears location to close in Washington state. Afterward, the nearest Sears store and auto center will be at Cascade Mall in Burlington.
Sears joined JCPenney, Bon Marche (now Macy's) and Nordstrom as Bellis Fair's anchor tenants when the mall opened in 1988. All four stores closed their downtown Bellingham locations to move to Meridian Street.
Sears operates more than 800 stores in the United States and holds proprietary brands such as Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard and Land's End. Its parent company, Sears Holdings Co., also owns Kmart Corp.
The Sports Authority, Inc., based in Englewood, Colo., has 450 stores in 45 states. The stores nearest to Bellingham are more than 50 miles away, in Everett and Lake Stevens.