Shoppers Swarm Chicago's Last Sears In Its Waning Days

Lisa Fielding
June 07, 2018 - 3:45 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) --  Inside the closing Sears store at Six Corners, things are bustling as shoppers try to get their last-minute deals.

"We're here to get the buys. We plan on being here until 7 tonight," one shopper said.

This Sears, at the corners of Milwaukee, Irving Park and Cicero in Portage Park, opened in 1938, and at the time was the only Sears to be air-conditioned.

For many shoppers, it's been a part of their whole lives.

"It’s sad, it's so sad. We come here all the time," Judith Pedraza said. "The community is sad also."

As part of its goodbye, the Six Corners Association is asking people to share their Sears memories.

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"We're having a ‘Farewell to Sears’ event. We wanted to celebrate the history and their presence in the community," said Kelli Wefenstette, executive director of the association.

Dale Harris is leading the behind-the-scenes tour of the 127,000-square-foot space.

"I worked for Sears for 47 years. I just retired. I was the locksmith," he said. "I've been in every square foot of this building.”

Harris says it’s bittersweet for him and the community.

"Six Corners used to the largest sales area in Chicago outside of the Loop, up until the 1970s -- then things starting moving out. At one point, Six Corners was a ghost town and Sears was our lifeline. Sears was pretty much it. Everyone involved with Six Corners have appreciated Sears and it's glad it's here. We wish it could stay and we're very sad it's leaving,” he added.

Cynthia Larus, who worked at the Oak Brook Sears in the 1960s, said, "I'm sick because a lot of American families raised their families on Sears Merchandise. I ironed the clothes for the window displays."

Sears opened its first-ever store in Chicago 93 years ago. The Six Corners store will close in mid-July and will make way for a redevelopment plan.

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It is the last Sears in Chicago. The company says employees will be offered severance pay as well as a chance to apply for positions at other Sears or Kmart locations.

"Sears is the longest running business at Six Corners. They are a year shy of their 80th anniversary. I think the neatest part is learning about all the stories about Sears. I think that even in light of their closing, those stories will continue to be told for years to come," Wefenstette said.

"There is a lot of sadness to see it go, but there's excitement to see how this building and this property can be repurposed for the next generation,” she said.