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Mishawaka Kmart closing leaves plaza in limbo

MISHAWAKA, Ind. - Shoppers and nearby business owners are trying to figure out what’s next after ABC57 confirmed Tuesday that the Kmart in Mishawaka will close in September.

“It’s really disappointing because there are hardly any places left anymore,” said Nancy White, a longtime shopper at the Mishawaka Kmart.

You’ll find White getting her fix once every two weeks inside Dream Nails, which sits across the parking lot from Kmart.

“It was my little routine to always come here, I go to the bank across the street, I go to CVS, and I go to Kmart,” she said.

But the CVS closed a few months ago.

And ABC57 confirmed on Tuesday that Kmart will shut its doors in September.

“It’s like becoming scary that it’s all becoming like a morgue around here,” White said.

The Kmart parking lot painted a different picture Wednesday afternoon.

It was pretty packed with shoppers; with few signs of slowing down.

But a grim reminder of how past businesses have fared in the plaza is just across the way, where several storefronts sit empty.

“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and have accelerated the closing of unprofitable stores,” said Howard Riefs, a spokesman for Kmart, in an email.

Lan Trinh has owned Dream Nails since 1996.

She said more businesses nearby means more business for her, but customers like White keep her afloat.

“Actually, we’ve been here a while, so that’s why we have regular customers,” Trinh said. “So then, that’s good that I have regular customers that come back, but then I’m still looking for some new customers. So that’s why if they have more stores in [the plaza], that’s really helpful.”

The Kmart will stay open until early September.

A liquidation sale will begin on June 15.

But faithful customers like White said the store closing is more than a loss of convenience, it’s a loss of community.

“Some of the ladies have worked in there for probably 20 years, at least,” White said. “And a lot of them are long term employees; the pharmacy’s long term people; and I’m really going to miss them. They become part of your life.”

The Mishawaka Kmart is one of several dozen Kmart stores being closed by parent company Sears throughout the next few months.

While Riefs would not say how many employees at the Mishawaka store would be losing their job, he did write that some workers will be eligible to receive severance packages and apply for other positions nearby.

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