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Kmart is closing in Manteca, shoppers

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POSTED June 7, 2017 12:31 a.m.

Kmart — the first “big box” style department store in Manteca — is closing.
The Manteca store was on the latest list of 72 stores added Tuesday to an existing list of Kmart and Sears stores owned by Sears Holding Co. It means the once dominate Sears brand will be closing more than 250 stores nationwide. It will bring their store count down to around 1,200 compared to 2,073 Sears and Kmart locations in 2012.
The Manteca store is among those tentatively targeted to close by September.
Wall Street investors have repeatedly criticized Sears for failing to keep stores fresh and up-to-date in terms of the interior and retail offerings. Investors have also been highly critical of the company not responding more effectively to online challenges.
Federal data shows online commerce accounted for 8.5 percent of all retail sales in the United States in the first three months of the year. It has grown steadily from the fourth quarter of 2004 when it was at 2.20 percent.
Amazon — one of the contributing factors to Sears declining sales — lands four daily jets daily at Stockton Metro Airport roughly 10 miles away from the Manteca Kmart store on Northgate Drive. Amazon expects the number of daily cargo flights into Stockton to increase as it pumps up its Prime Service. Amazon operates two major distribution centers in Tracy — one on Chrisman Road and the other on Mountain House Parkway — plus a fulfillment center in Patterson. The three serve the Greater Bay Area, Sacramento and most of northern and central California.
The loss of Kmart means local retail jobs will be lost but it is not likely in itself to accelerate a slide in sales tax receipts for the city. Target and Walmart are likely to benefit from a pickup in brick and mortar shoppers. The fact Manteca has been adding at least 1,000 residents annual since 2004 helped soften the impact of the Great Recession and has helped a number of national retailers with stores in Manteca counter online sales bleed.
The biggest problem besides the loss of Kmart’s retail jobs will be a vacant store due to its location.
Kmart originally opened in Manteca roughly 50 years ago as the main anchor for what is now the Manteca Marketplace on West Yosemite Avenue. The space Kmart once used is now occupied by Big Lots and In Shape Fitness.
Kmart built its existing store on Northgate Drive in the early 1990s shortly after Walmart opened on South Main Street.
The choice of the location at the time puzzled commercial real estate experts who noted it was away from other retail and not on a major commercial street. There was talk at the time of a shopping center going in on the large acreage to the east of the Northgate Drive and North Main Street intersection that backs up to Highway 99 but that did not materialize.
Manteca will soon be faced with a large vacant retail building that is not only off the beaten track for the city but faces tough competition for users given the extensive freeway exposure commercial land Manteca has along the 120 Bypass and nearby at the Lathrop Road and Highway 99 interchange.
At the same time Manteca’s growth patterns for the last 20 years have not been near the Northgate Kmart location and aren’t likely to be so for at least the next 10 to 15 years.
Getting a user in the Kmart location will be a challenge.
The City of Manteca has a large stake in the future of the site as it could generate a significance magnet for homeless and riff-raff as did the closure of the Manteca Industrial Park building that once housed 700 employees for Indy Electronics that was taken over by Alphatec and then Turnkey Solutions before closing. The homeless and copper wire scavengers did so much damage that it has essentially rendered the building useless although the current owner secured city approval last year to possibly turn it into an indoor RV and general storage complex with outside boat and RV storage as well.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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