PORTAGE PARK — Chicago’s last Sears is closed, and now its signs are down. Crews removed the white and blue signs from the just-shuttered Six Corners Shopping District Sears Wednesday night.
“Considering I’ve lived down the block my whole life it really hit home. My mother and I sat and watched and it felt as if someone we knew had passed,” said Sherry Lorraine Cedeño, who recorded the crews working Wednesday night.
“It felt as if the Six Corners we knew and loved was gone. We were pretty much saying bye to a friend.”
The Six Corners store was designed by Chicago architecture firm Nimmons, Carr & Wright and first opened its doors on Oct. 20, 1938. The final days of a liquidation sale that began April 27 happened over the weekend and featured 85 percent off items and 50 percent off fixtures still in the store.
“By Sunday most of the merchandise had been sold. So a lot of the focus was on selling the fixtures,” said Kelli Wefenstette, the executive director of the Six Corners Association.
“When I was there most of the people in line were buying fixtures from the store. Most of it was things like step ladders, metal baskets and clothing racks. A few people bought some neat pieces though, like Sears Corporation signage for employees.”
When Sears, Roebuck & Co. launched in 1893 it used a mail-order business model to compete with brick and mortar stores as well as rival mail-order companies like Montgomery Ward. Using a catalog, consumers purchased items for delivery the same way modern consumers go online to order items from sites like Amazon.
As Sears expanded its operations its owners saw that consumers were moving away from mail-order purchases so the company opened up its first retail store in 1924.
So what’s next for Six Corners?
During a June 21 public meeting regarding a development across the street, Ald. John Arena (45th) said the Six Corners area had three major sites that were in the process of being developed.
And in May, Tucker Development and Seritage Growth Properties announced a partnership to develop the former Sears into a mixed-use development with retail and residential components. Seritage is currently advertising the 127,110-square-foot Sears and its 56,180-square-foot auto center for lease with an option to subdivide the property.
“They haven’t submitted anything to us yet,” Owen Brugh, chief of staff for Arena, said Thursday. “At the moment we think they’re focusing on developing another one of their sites.”