HILLSBORO — Seemingly unrelated announcements that construction of the new Orscheln Farm & Home store off Harry Sauner Road is being put “on hold” and the Kmart on North High Street is closing in late January 2018 fueled speculation Thursday that the two moves might in fact be connected.
Construction of the Orscheln store has been placed on hold by the company, according to an email from an Orscheln representative forwarded to The Times-Gazette by Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie.
In the email, sent Tuesday to administrative assistant Debbie Sansone, Orscheln representative Linda Mustoe said the construction was placed on hold due to the company having multiple other projects underway in other areas.
“Please assure Mayor Hastings that there is no Hillsboro city or city-government issue that contributed to Orscheln’s decision to place its Hillsboro, Ohio store construction on hold,” the email reads. “Orscheln has numerous expansion projects underway and given the number and size of these projects, we recently made several adjustments to our schedule including the difficult decision to place the Hillsboro site on hold. Hillsboro, Ohio is a welcoming, impressive, thriving community and market.”
The email included a note of thanks to Mayor Drew Hastings and the “Hillsboro City staff and citizens for your friendly and professional assistance.”
For now, McKenzie said, the city has heard nothing more.
“That’s all we know,” he said. “I think they’ve got too much invested in it to completely pull out. Purchasing property and starting development is quite a bit of monetary investment.”
However, there has been some speculation that the announcement Thursday by Kmart that it is closing its Hillsboro location might have impacted the decision by Orscheln to place its construction plan in Hillsboro on hold.
In many communities, Rural King stores have quickly taken up residence in former Kmart facilities. Like Orscheln, Rural King is a “farm and home” store.
Hastings said Thursday he did not know if that scenario was happening here, but said, “I have had conversations with Rural King in the last year or so, and they’re very interested in coming to Hillsboro.”
Just this year, Rural King stores have moved into former Kmart facililties in Maysville, Ky., Corbin, Ky., and Sweetwater, Tenn., as well as other similar moves in previous years.
Hillsboro’s Kmart is among 45 Kmart stores and 18 Sears stores across the country that will be closing in late January 2018, the company said Thursday.
In a statement, the company said, “Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size. In the process, as previously announced we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.”
On Thursday, the company informed associates at the impacted Kmart and Sears stores that it will be closing those stores in late January 2018.
The statement continued, “It’s important to note that these stores will remain open to serve members during the holiday season. Eligible associates impacted by these store closures will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores. Customers can use the store locator function on our web sites to find the location of their nearest Kmart and Sears stores. Liquidation sales will begin as early as November 9 at these closing stores.”
Hillsboro was one of five Kmarts in Ohio on the closing list. The local store manager said Thursday he could not comment on the announcement.
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