Bethany Clough

Fresno is losing its Sears. Here’s what we know about the closure

The Sears at Fresno’s Manchester Center is closing, marking the end of an era for a store that’s more than 50 years old.

The store, which opened in 1956, is the latest casualty in several rounds of closures over the past few years, confirmed Manchester’s Center general manager Moe Bagunu.

It’s not clear when the Sears’ last day will be at Manchester Center.

The Visalia Sears at Sequoia Mall is also closing, an employee confirmed.

The Sears at the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis remains open, an employee confirmed.

A total of 96 stores will close starting in December, including 45 Kmart stores, which are owned by the same parent company, according to Reuters.

No one at the Manchester Sears store or Sears’ parent company was available for comment Wednesday.

The Sears property – both the building and the lands – at Manchester Center not owned by the mall.

Sears Holdings, which owns both Kmart stores and Sears stores, has been struggling in recent years. The company filed for bankruptcy last year and survived it, after its chairman bought it for more than $4 billion.

Despite the rescue, the Valley has lost Sears stores in Merced, Modesto and Bakersfield. Kmart stores in Clovis, Visalia, Lemoore, Coalinga and Kingsburg have also closed.

What’s that construction?

Throughout all this, construction work has been happening at the Manchester Sears.

Sears shrunk its sales floor space in recent months, creating room for new retailers to come in.

The company that owns the Sears building, Seritage Growth Properties, is already planning to redevelop the property. It plans to turn 78,300 square feet of the existing store and the detached Sears Auto Center into a Ross, a dd’s DISCOUNTS and other retail, according to the company’s most recent earnings release.

It did not share details about which store will go where.

Much of the construction work happening is on the facade and a loading dock, Bagunu said.

Customer mourns

A lifelong shopper of the Manchester Sears, Rosemary Rojas of Fresno walks the mall six days a week for exercise.

“It literally hurts your heart,” she said of hearing about the coming closure.

She remembers shopping there as a kid, and what a big deal getting the Sears catalog was.

“I think what Sears did is they lost contact with their shopper,” she said. “That makes a big difference.”

Now the Fresno Sears at least, is joining the ranks of big retailers closing stores, like Woolworths and Newberry, she said.

“The giants are gone,” she said.

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.