Sears’ anchor store in Woodfield Mall was such an instrumental part of the mall’s creation and early success that part of the mall’s name – “The Tree” is for legendary former Sears chairman Robert E. Wood – pays homage to the iconic retailer.
But now, just a week after the shopping mecca in the suburbs celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening, Woodfield’s Sears store is preparing to close its doors for the last time.
Officials from Sears’ Hoffman Estates-based parent company Transformco announced Thursday that they will close the Woodfield store, its last remaining location in Illinois, on Nov. 14 as part of a business plan to “remodel and revive the property.”
“This is part of the company’s strategy to unlock the value of the property and pursue the highest and best use for the benefit of the local community,” the statement said.
Transformco did not disclose details of the planned redevelopment, but said the company is negotiating with the best retailers to fill the space.
“With the redevelopment of this location primarily focused on retail use, we intend to revive and maximize the value of the property while enhancing the consumer experience with popular retailers to suit the regional attraction of Woodfield Mall,” said Scott Carr, chairman of real estate for Transformco, the statement said.
Santa has been a staple for Sears as much as he has in Woodfield, even as here in 2009 at the Hot Wheels Super Jump Raceway during the unveiling of The Toy Shop at Sears.
– Daily Herald File Photo, 2009
Thursday’s announcement follows a series of Sears closures in other suburban centers in recent years, including Randhurst Village in Mount Prospect, Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee and Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills.
Schaumburg Mayor Tom Dailly said Thursday was a day to mourn the passing of a local icon.
“For me personally and for the village and its residents, Sears has been such a presence in the Chicago area and the nation,” Dailly said. “It’s sad to see so close. I grew up with Sears. I have Sears devices. All my tools are Sears.”
A thorough conversation between village, Woodfield and Transformco officials in the near future is appropriate given the many possibilities for the large space, Dailly said.
Representatives of Simon Property Group, the parent company of Woodfield Mall, referred all questions about the closure to Sears.
Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal signed autographs and met with fans at the Woodfield Mall Sears store in 2014.
– Daily Herald -filfoto, 2014
Although the village recently opened its door to residential development in that part of the village, considering a proposed 208-unit apartment building on the north side of the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg, Dailly said it is too early to discuss housing on the Woodfield property.
Schaumburg’s CFO Matt Frank agreed. While housing use may not be off the table, there are many other options closer to Woodfield’s existing identity, he said.
“It’s obviously a unique opportunity with a great location,” Frank said.
The options may include dividing the space into smaller shops or a kind of sports or recreation place.
The finish is the second of a Woodfield anchor store in just as many years. The mall’s Lord & Taylor closed in 2020.
Jason Derulo gave a free concert at Sears in the Woodfield Mall to children who auditioned in 2010 to become one of the 20 Rock the Scene VIP reporters.
– Daily Herald File Photo, 2010
While the closure of the store is another sign of Sears’ death as a bricklayer, officials at neighboring Hoffman Estates said Thursday they were aware of no significant changes at Transformco’s headquarters 18 miles west of Woodfield.
According to the company’s statement, Transformco’s strategy for Sears and Kmart is to operate a diversified portfolio consisting of a small number of larger, leading stores and a larger number of small format stores. Transformco will continue to expand both Hometown Stores and Home & Life stores in cities and towns that previously had larger format stores, the company said.