Northeast side even emptier as Kmart moves out

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Fort Wayne’s northeast side is looking more and more empty, as one more big box store is on its way out.

Kmart announced Tuesday that it will soon close its Coliseum Boulevard store, which is a short walk from where two other big box stores used to sit: Value City and Home Depot.

Eileen Young, a former employee of Kmart for 31 years, visited the store Wednesday to talk to friends about the news.

“At one time, they were the big discount store around. You didn’t have all these other stores so they were number 1, it’s sad to see them leave the area, the last one,” said Young.

“You’ve got big name retailers here that I think are going to catch the attention of people simply because they are big name retailers. We don’t want to see them go, but at the end of the day, there will be some who come into replace them,” said Nelson Peters, Allen County Commissioner.

Peters said he hopes they’ll be local businesses.

“This community, we’ve got about 9,000 business that have five or less employees, those are the businesses that drive the economy of the Fort Wayne and Allen County area,” said Peters.

He said while the big retailers pay about eight or nine dollars an hour, local employees usually make at least double that, creating more value in the community.

“There will be others that replace them. These will be others who maybe don’t have the worldwide name that some of these retailers have but they’re come in and they’ll be able to provide those services and I don’t think we’ll miss a beat in this community,” said Peters.

That’s because at the end of the day, he said they’re more invested.

“It’s often times easier for a big box store to pull up stakes in a community like this because they’re not as connected to the community as some of the homegrown business that are providing the same services,” said Peters.

Young said this transition can be emotional. According to her, although her former colleagues weren’t surprised that Kmart was closing, they are nervous about the job search.

“Jobs are hard to come by now even more so when I was looking for a job,” said Young.

However, Peters said we’ve had more businesses come in than leave.

“I think you will note more coming in the last three years and I think you’re going to hear some big announcement in the days to come,” said Peters.

This Kmart location is set to close in December.



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