Prince Kuhio Plaza might seek a new tenant after Sears, one of the mall’s oldest stores, closes later this year.
In late January, Sears Holdings quietly posted job openings for “temporary store closing” positions at 10 of its Sears locations nationwide. Among those listings were a pair of job openings at the Hilo Sears location in the mall.
The two Hilo job listings are for a part-time backroom worker and a part-time cashier. The official position titles on the website read “TEMP CASHIER UP TO 40 HRS/WK! *STORE CLOSING HILO IN HILO, HI AT SEARS,” although no part of the job descriptions mention the fate of the store.
Two identical listings were also posted for the Sears location in Aiea, Oahu, at the same time.
Daniel Kea, Prince Kuhio’s general manager, said he was given notice last week of Sears’ impending closure, and employees have been notified. Kea mentioned that Sears’ parent company has a specific date to vacate the site, although he was unable to disclose that date.
“It’s definitely a setback for the mall, but it’s not like it’s been totally unplanned for,” Kea said, mentioning that Sears’ financial decline through the years has been well-documented.
Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2018 and stated its intention to sell 505 stores that year, including the Hilo location.
According to a recent Forbes article, there will only be 36 Sears locations open in the U.S. after these 10 locations close.
The Hilo Sears location was among the original “anchor” stores for Prince Kuhio Plaza when it opened in 1985, Kea said. Of those original stores, “only a handful” are left, and that number will be even smaller later this year, he said.
When Sears vacates, Kea said the mall might look for a replacement tenant, but could also redevelop or renovate the 74,070-square-foot store.
Representatives for Sears Holdings did not respond for requests for comment by Tuesday evening.
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