History of Sears:

First opening in the old Downtown Mankato Mall in 1939,

Sears then moved to the Madison East mall 29 years later in 1968..

In 1997 Sears made their final move to the River Hills Mall where it has stood ever since.

On Wednesday Sears Holdings Company announced they will be closing multiple locations, including the one in Mankato.

"We've been anticipating this for years frankly, as the Sears business has started to decline," River Hills Mall General Manager, Andy Wilke said.

The mall has been exploring opportunities the space can offer.

"We can redevelop the space and bring in one large tenant, we can bring in multiple tenants, we've got a lot of options and we're exploring those opportunities right now," Wilke said.

Andy says they plan for vacancy..

Always shopping around for new opportunities.

"We have great relationships with many tenants at a national level. We are truly a 50 state company and we have always had relationships with those tenants and we're always working with them to find new opportunities for them to expand and also to fill vacant spaces in our mall," Wilke said.

Adding that this opens opportunities for other businesses around Mankato to relocate.

"They can either relocate to the mall, maybe higher traffic at a mall and also something that we look to is we want to bring first market retailers here, we want to bring somebody who's not in Mankato maybe who's in the twin cities or Rochester," Wilke said.

Greater Mankato says those new opportunities and a low unemployment rate is good news for those being laid off at Sears.

"It's a very tough situation for families in our community. The local workforce center is going to be working with those employees. Luckily, there are several employers in the area that are looking to make hires," Greater Mankato Growth, John Considine said.

"We've got some new stores that are planning to be opening later this year which we hope to announce soon and there will be great opportunity for them to find new opportunities with those stores," Wilke said.
Sears plans to be vacating the space in March.

--KEYC News