HANFORD — Contrary to the early January press release, the Sears Auto Center near the Hanford Mall will remain open.
Sears Holding Company originally announced Jan. 4 that, along with the Hanford Sears store closing in early April, the auto center would close later this month. While the main store is still slated to close, Sears decided to keep the Auto Center open, said the district service manager of automotive, Leonso Anguiano.
Anguiano said that a week prior to the release of the news that the auto center would close, Sears determined that seven auto center locations would remain open despite the main retail stores closing. He said the good performance of the auto centers was the deciding factor in keeping them open.
“We are open seven days a week and we plan on keeping the store open for the community,” Anguiano said.
Griselda Herrera, the manager of the Sears Auto Center, said they have fielded calls and questions from people stopping by asking if they were still open. She said she hopes that business is not hurt because of the confusion.
“They were worried that we’d be open since we are where they take their cars,” Herrera said about the customers that have asked if they are still open.
Sears Holding Co. has yet to announce publicly the decision to keep the auto centers open. Sears Holding Co. did not respond to email inquiry or phone calls.
The auto center employs around 12 people. The closing of the retail store will displace 60 employees.
Sears said it would shut down 39 Sears and 64 Kmart locations in the middle of March or early April.
John Lehn, president of the Kings County Economic Development Corporation, said that Sears has done a good job with this layoff, notifying the employees months in advance of when a Working Adjustment and Retraining Notice is required, 60 days prior to closure.
Joanne Doerter, the leasing manager of the mall, said she does not have a set timeline for when the space Sears is leaving will have a new tenant. “It’s all about timing,” she said.
Two weeks after finding out Sears would be leaving, she is approaching stores that have shown previous interest in space at the mall: Burlington Coat Factory, Boot Barn, Five Below, Home Goods, other home stores, grocery stores and furniture stores.
Doerter did say that Urban Air Adventure Park, which will fill the Forever 21 space, would be opening in June or July.