Friday, February 21, 2014
Sears is pulling out from the historic Sodo location where it has operated for more than a century, cutting its last ties to a building complex that in better days played a critical role in its commercial conquest of the West.
A Sears spokesman said Friday that the company is laying off 79 employees -- 66 who work at the store, at 76 S. Lander Street, and 13 at the neighboring Sears Auto Center. Both will close to the public in early June, and a liquidation sale at the store will start on April 3.
The move comes as Illinois-based Sears fights for its life in the midst of shrinking sales and mounting losses. Competition from online retailers and hipper brick-and-mortar rivals such as Target and Costco Wholesale have cut into the aging retail giant’s bottom line; store closures are part of what Sears is doing to cut expenses and overhaul its business model.
Sears’ departure is also a milestone for the historic complex, which Sears topped with a tower in 1915 to mark its massive catalog warehouse.
According to Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry, early in the 20th Century the complex was the site of Sears’ new Western Branch, from where it supplied the Western U.S. “with everything from underwear and alarm clocks to farm equipment and metal ceilings.”
Now the building is a landmark for a different kind of retail giant. Starbucks put its headquarters there in 1997 and added to the tower its green-and-white mermaid logo.
A Starbucks spokesman said that the company doesn’t have any plans to expand its space in the 2.1 million-square-foot development, which also houses other tenants.