Mall of Louisiana... 11/17/04

Shoppers in the Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge walk past Sears.

After 24 years, Sears is closing its Baton Rouge location at the Mall of Louisiana, the last location in the state. 

The Baton Rouge Sears opened in 1997 when the Mall of Louisiana opened its doors for the first time. Sears owns its two-level 123,744-square-foot building spanning 8 acres as an anchor of the mall property.

The mall has been operating with limited customer capacity for months, with many stores transitioning to curbside pickup during the early part of the coronavirus pandemic. Management for the Mall of Louisiana declined comment for this story. 

Sears' parent company Transform Holdco did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Calls to the Baton Rouge Sears store went unanswered. 

Over the weekend, the company posted two temporary jobs seeking a cashier and backroom worker to assist during the closure of the store. It was not immediately clear how many employees the Sears location has on site. 

Similar jobs were posted for the closure of Sears in Long Beach, Boyle, Sacramento, Clovis and Orange California; Chicago Ridge, Illinois; Brockton, Massachusetts; Thornton, Colorado; Hilo, Hawaii; Silver Spring, Maryland; Valley Stream, New York; Brandon, Florida; Union Gap; Washington; Mesquite, Texas; Dulles, Virginia among other locations. Forbes reported over the weekend that the closures will leave only 31 Sears department stores remaining.

In 2017, Sears closed its Cortana Mall location in Baton Rouge during that shopping center's demise and the Gonzales Kmart, also owned by the retailer. A developer with close ties to Amazon plans to demolish Cortana for the construction of a large warehouse distribution center. 

Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018 and closed hundreds of stores as it emerged from bankruptcy in February 2019. Before the bankruptcy Sears had 8 full size locations across Louisiana and five Kmart stores. After the bankruptcy, there was only one Sears location in Louisiana and 15 smaller "hometown" franchised locations that sell appliances and hardware in places such as Baker, Luling, Opelousas, Bogalusa and Bayou Vista.

Sears left its 97,000-square-foot space at Acadiana Mall in Lafayette in 2017. The Sears at Clearview Mall and Kmart along Veterans Boulevard in Metairie were sold in 2018. The Clearview Mall store, covering 13.9 acres, was sold to mall owners the Richards family. 

Sears opened a small footprint prototype in Lafayette in April 2019 known as Sears Home & Life, which is less than 15,000 square feet.  

When the coronavirus pandemic began and stay-at-home orders were mandated across the U.S., Sears closed its entire brick-and-mortar footprint temporarily and has reopened over the past few months.

Sears owner Transform Holdco is an affiliate of hedge fund ESL Investments, controlled by former Sears Chief Executive Officer Eddie Lampert.

The Mall of Louisiana last lost a department store anchor in 2005 with the closure of McRae's, a chain that was sold to Belk by Saks. Dillard's then acquired the Mall of Louisiana store from Belk and doubled its presence at the Mall of Louisiana with separate men's and women's stores. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Belk sold the store to Dillard's because of a prior agreement that existed between Dillard's and Saks gave Dillard's first right to purchase the store in the Mall of Louisiana if Saks ever sold it.


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com.