Hipp: 'They never came to me at all'

Local Kmart to close in mid-May
Joe Centers
Feb 1, 2014


When Kmart announced it was closing its Norwalk store Friday, John Hipp was as surprised as anybody.

Hipp and his Maple City Builders group own the building that houses Kmart on Milan Avenue.

Maple City Builders bought the building “two, maybe three years ago,” Hipp said Saturday. “I was as upset as anybody else. I do not have a tenant right now.”

Hipp said Kmart had all of the control with the lease.

“They never came to me at all,” he said. “They called me last year and wanted to buy out the lease. Everything was in their court. They have all the options. They asked me If they could buy out the lease. I said no and I never heard from them again.

“The lease wasn’t up. They had option upon option to renew the lease. They could have renewed that lease as much as they wanted to.”

The store will close for good in mid-May, a local store official and company spokesman confirmed Friday.

The local store official referred comments to corporate officials.

“Until then, the store will remain open for customers,” Sears Holdings spokesman Howard Riefs confirmed in an e-mail Friday.

Riefs said the store will begin liquidation sales on Feb. 23.

Riefs said the Norwalk store’s 52 employees who are eligible will receive severance and have the chance to apply for open positions at area Sears or Kmart stores. Most of the associates are part time/hourly, Riefs said.

In 2004, Sears Holdings Corporation became the parent company of Kmart.

Kmart and Sears Holdings have been struggling, as year-to-year comparisons of sales in both Sears and Kmart stores have declined, according to company financial reports. Holiday sales were underwhelming.

The companies have been announcing store closings around the nation and last week made headlines by saying that Sears’ flagship store in Chicago would close. The company is headquartered outside Chicago.

“Store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” Riefs said in an e-mail last week. “These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail — at the store, online, and in the home.”

Most workers at both stores are part-time and hourly, Riefs wrote.

Sears, which began as a catalog company, has told analysts that it is moving toward online sales and away from brick-and-mortar retail.

Discount store Kmart operates more than 1,300 locations across the United States. Customers may find a wide range of products from shopping at Kmart, such as clothing, jewelry, housewares, tools, electronics, and toys. Annually, Kmart creates close to $15 billion in revenue.

For Hipp, he will start looking for another tenant. This is the second major tenant the company has lost in recent months.

“Obviously I am disappointed with the news,” Hipp said. I lost my tenants with the bank (PNC, last year). We try to invest in the community.”




In other words: The closing has nothing to do with the lease.

Sears announced the beginning of store closings in Dec. '11. Not surprised.

Company-wide, Sears had lousy holiday sales results.


@ NR:

Obviously a more politically correct article than the previous one.

Helps to make the NEDC appear less 'blind sighted' and potentially less incompetent.

Fibber Mcgee

Agree with you on NEDC statement.


Thank you Mr Hipp. I was hoping this was the case! You are first class


Yes, I was hoping Mr Hipp was going to bring something great to Norwalk. Too bad K Mart had to fudge the truth. Sounds like if the can't get their way, Kmart takes their toys and leaves. Mr Hipp, how about a Pottery Barn?

Cliff Cannon

@doc5798a : Amen !

P.S. Here's hoping, praying & wishing for a new tenant soon not only for our beloved city, but also for the family who put their heart, soul& profits into keeping our city the beautiful place to live that it is.


that whole section of town is going to be empty


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


The smart ones in the whole deal are the prior owners that sold the building in December 2012 before it became worthless in May 2014.

How about an Ollie's?


Stfu matt


With the Hipps owning Maple City Ice that would be a great location for a micro brewery and restaurant such as World of Beers, Fat Heads, or Melt Bar and Grilled not to mention maybe a Rally's near the front entrance of the parking lot


Sorry to say but I always thought it would have been wiser to close the Norwalk K-Mart and leave the Sandusky store open but they decided to do it the other way around. I think it was a mistake for them. They probably would have been successful in Sandusky along with all the other stores. Getting only Norwalk people isn't enough to keep a store as big as K-Mart open. The closing was inevitable.


This area needs a MARC's store.


Re: "MARC's store."

What, IGA and Gardner's don't have enough competition with Wal-Mart?



You'all keep saying we need this retailer... we need that retailer.
that remark is because there are so many around here who don't really spend there "OWN" money, but rather handouts..your mindset if off.

We need the place to become some warehouse or some small production company



In the final analysis you are correct.

But the commercial trend is not following that direction.

The largest employers in Norwalk are govt. and not-for-profits - NOT the foundation for a growing economy.

Take a look at the recent holiday sales. Amazon.com and other on-line retailers took a big bite out of brick & mortar national store sales.

Undoubtedly part of the reason for the closing of this particular K-Mart.

More on-line sales, fewer brick and mortar - THAT appears to be the trend.

The local economy has some serious systemic problems that have been festering for decades.

This economy ain't a speedboat, it's more like a cruise ship. It'll take decades to possibly turn it around - if at all.

Inertia can be very difficult to overcome.


Looks like I will soon have little option but to ship my pants.

Matthew Eric

:( :( :(
Man, I really enjoy shopping there! They have similar pricing to Wal-Mart, and 85% less trailer trash and much better parking.
I guess that's why they're closing.

J Cooper

I find Kmart's prices high than Wal-Mart, less selection and in recent years the employees when you can find one seems less than friendly, which probably explains why the parking lot is usually almost empty and its easy to park. Some of the better employees has moved to Rural King since they opened. Would not be surprised in the future that Sears & Kmart goes the way of the original Montgomery Ward. As for criticism of the customers at Wal-Mart, must be great to be perfect.


Re: "Sears & Kmart goes the way of the original Montgomery Ward."

Would hate to see it.

Few know or remember that A&P was once the largest retailer in the world.

Times and tastes change.


I ask anyone who is sad to see Kmart close, did you shop there? All one has to do is compare 12 cars in the parking lot at Kmart to the 300 cars parked at Wally World. I shop at Kmart, sad to see it go, but not surprised at all.


I shopped at Kmart a few times in the last year. 4 out of 5 employees were rude, shelves were empty and the place just felt and looked old and out dated. Prices are higher and all around a worse shopping experience than all the other stores from here to Sandusky. Last summer was the last time I shopped there. The advertised items not available there and they said if I wanted something in the add that they didn't have I would have to drive to Elyria or Lorain to get it. Wouldn't even ship it to this store for me to pick up. All the others will. I'm glad they are closing. Sorry for the people losing their jobs. That's the worst part. Screw Kmart and Sears. They don't know what customer service is. Hope Sears goes soon too.


wasp71, I understand what you are saying. While I was never found anyone rude there...selection was slim at times. But I mostly shoped there for house hold items and pet food. I use cupons and buy sale items with them. Walmart has a history of employee abuse.


And the truth comes out. You don't shop Walmart because they do not pay their workers 15 bucks an hour. Well guess what, KMart doesn't either.


I have stopped shopping at Sears. All of their stuff is CRAP. Kenmore, Craftsman. All of it. CRAPOLA! $500 on a Craftsman grill 2 seasons, cleaned after every use, covered, stored for winter, and it DIES. The price to buy and replace the burners (not even a guarantee to fix it) I can buy a new one! Craftsman lawnmower, used 3 times, drain for the winter, tried to start and use for spring, DEAD. Take it to a SEARS repair shop told the Carb is plugged, my fault and it will cost $XX to fix it. Told them to keep it I wasn't even going to take it home! Craftsman drill couple hundred dollars...good investment for a new home. 2 batteries, carrying case. Worked great, loved it. Used it a lot in my new house, so much the batteries burned out and we needed new ones.....3 years later...they do not make them anymore!!!! Kenmore stove almost burnt my house down. For no reason the thing would over heat and peg out at over 500* burning whatever was in the oven. SEARS will never have my business or money again.

Cliff Cannon

Stinks they are leaving


444gwp I shopped there. However much of what I have is made/rebuilt too. Hence more disposable income.


kurtje, What? Sorry you lost me.

yea right

back when wally world came to town and my wife was working at the big k.. the manager said "we will run them out of town" hahaha i knew that to be a lie then..