Hilo Sears store up for sale — or liquidation

HILO — The Sears store at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo is among the more than 500 the Illinois-based retailer hopes to sell in coming months as part of bankruptcy proceedings and financial restructuring.

Company officials, however, say they intend to keep the stores open.

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Sears Holding filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.

According to court documents filed Nov. 21, Sears is seeking to sell 505 stores, and interested parties can submit a bid for all or some of the stores.

The company is, however, also considering bids for liquidation.

A Sears Holdings spokesperson said via email that the company plans for these stores to remain open to the public and declined further comment.

In seeking approval to solicit such bids, court documents state that Sears believes there is a “viable path forward for a reorganization around a smaller footprint of profitable stores. … A successful sale of these stores … not only will save Sears and Kmart, but also the jobs of tens of thousands of employees that depend on the continued operation of the debtors’ stores.”

Dec. 15 is the deadline to designate an initial bidder, while the deadline to submit definitive bids, including liquidation bids, is Dec. 28. An auction date has been set for Jan. 14.

On Tuesday, a steady stream of shoppers strolled in and out of the Hilo Sears store.

At least one hopes that Sears stays.

“I would miss it, because most of the time, I get my appliances there, and my clothes. I always like their clothes,” shopper Beverly Moodie said.

She shops at Sears “frequently for the amount of shopping that I do, which is not a lot.”

Moodie said she likes the store’s maintenance agreements and reliability.

“For me, that works because I’m a widow. I don’t know how to fix anything, so I like that maintenance agreement, and with Sears, I know who’s going come.”

Store employees referred questions to Sears Holding public relations, and a phone call to mall management was not returned by deadline.

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In addition to the Hilo store, three Sears locations on Oahu also are on the auction block.

As part of the Sears’ financial restructuring, the company announced it was set to close 142 unprofitable stores near the end of the year and previously announced the closure of 46 other stores.