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New Ulm Kmart Closing: Residents React

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NEW ULM, Minn. -

The Kmart in New Ulm is the latest casualty of a string of store closings by Sears Holdings Corporation.

The announcement came this week as the retailer struggles to improve its finances.

Long before there was a Wal-Mart or Target in New Ulm, Kmart had been serving shoppers for years.

Shopper Rebecca Clarkif says, "I like coming to Kmart because they usually have what I need, they usually have the odd things."

So when word got out that it would soon be closing its doors, many shoppers were surprised and saddened by the news.

Shopper Linda Meyer says, "I hadn't heard that until just this minute. That is bad news, I think that is horrible."

The closing is part of Sears' plan announced in December to close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores after poor sales during the holidays.

It previously named 79 of the stores it would close—four of which were in Minnesota.

The stores in New Ulm and Monticello are the only Minnesota Kmart's to make the most recent list.

Clarkif says, "It's sad to see it go because it's been a staple with my family for a long time, just go to Kmart, get what you need and get out of there."

The New Ulm Kmart manager couldn't say exactly when the store would close its doors, but said it would happen in five to six months, leaving around 50 employees without a job.

New Ulm Chamber board chair Denny Waloch says, "This is a blow to our community and it's going to be hard to replace those jobs."

Clarkif says, "I think it is making the community look like it is shrinking instead of growing."

Waloch says, "There is going to be less competition it make New Ulm less of a destination to come to do their shopping."

Kmart has been in New Ulm for over 25 years.

On a brighter note, a Menards is coming to New Ulm; the city expects construction to start this spring with an opening set for spring of 2013.