The last SLO County-area Kmart and Sears stores are closing — here’s what’s coming next

The last Kmart and Sears stores in the San Luis Obispo County area will close early next year, according to the retailers’ holding company.

The Kmart store on El Camino Real in Atascadero and the Sears store at the Santa Maria Town Center will shut their doors by February 2020, according to a Thursday news release from Transformco.

The company is closing 96 Sears and Kmart stores nationwide as part of a strategy to “streamline our operations.” Transformco will operate 182 stores following the closures.

The closing stores will begin holding going-out-of-business sales on Dec. 2.

“Since purchasing substantially all the assets of Sears Holdings Corporation in February 2019, Transformco has faced a difficult retail environment and other challenges,” the release reads. “We have been working hard to position Transformco for success by focusing on our competitive strengths and pruning operations that have struggled due to increased competition and other factors.”

The Atascadero Kmart closure comes on the heels of two other Central Coast closures. Arroyo Grande’s store closed in April, and Santa Maria’s store closed in March.

Twenty-eight California stores are on the recent Kmart and Sears closure list, including locations in Ventura, Santa Paula, Fresno and Visalia.

“It’s definitely a loss,” said Phil Dunsmore, Atascadero Community Development director. “We don’t have a ton of general retail stores.”

Even so, the closure may also present an opportunity for new businesses to come to Atascadero, Dunsmore said.

Jeff Mayhew of Strata Properties in Newport Beach purchased the Kmart property about a year ago, he said. Mayhew wants to turn the shopping area into a “lifestyle center,” or a kind of outdoor mall with dining, retail and a grocery store, Dunsmore said.

“It’s going to be an attractive location for something else,” he said.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.