published Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Cleveland, Tenn., city council wants support for local Sears store slated to close

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland City Council members want the city to rally around its Sears store.

Sears announced on Jan. 4 plans to close 89 stores nationwide, including the one in Bradley Square Mall.

The council has asked Mayor Tom Rowland to write a letter to the company, asking for one more year before closing the store.

Rowland said some contact with Sears officials already has been made.

By then, Councilman Dale Hughes said Monday, many of the projects under way here -- Wacker Chemical, Amazon, Whirlpool, Olin renovation, business growth and maybe a new movie theater -- will change the corporation's mind.

"You know what happened with GM," Hughes said.

Two years ago, General Motors announced plans to close its Cleveland dealership, the Don Ledford Automotive Center, which carries GMC, Buick and Cadillac. The community rallied behind Ledford Automotive Manager Debbie Melton and persuaded the corporation to keep the franchise.

Not only that, Hughes noted, but GM also announced earlier this month that it will bring the Chevrolet brand back to the dealership after a two-year absence.

Sears is "worth fighting for," Hughes said.

He recalled that the former Village Mall and Cleveland Mall became empty after departing stores left vacancies.

"It creates a domino effect," Hughes said.

Those former shopping malls have been reincarnated, he said. Cleveland Mall became Life Care Centers of America's Campbell Center. The Village was transformed by Allan Jones into a business mall plus restaurants and a fitness center.

And there are other reasons for Cleveland to have a Sears, said Councilman Bill Estes.

"Alan Lacy was the CEO of Sears and he grew up here," Estes said.

Lacy was the last chairman and CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Kmart bought Sears in 2005.

Bradley Square Mall also has a Kmart.

Rowland said some bloggers are already on the project. "One in particular from Cleveland said, 'You are closing your store in the city where your Kenmore ranges are made,'" he said.

Commissioner George Poe urged residents to call Sears Customer Relations at 1-800-549-4505 and refer to the local store number 02345.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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