New Hampshire Union Leader
(DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER – Katie Tremblay walked out of Sears carrying a large plastic bag of bargains: a $70 purse she got for $11 and an $80 toy for $30.
“They have some good deals,” the Allenstown resident said on a recent weekday afternoon. “It’s depressing that they’re closing.”
Three Sears stores in New Hampshire – Manchester, Salem and Newington – will close by year’s end. The closures will leave nearly 400,000 square feet of retail space, roughly twice the size of the Walmart Supercenter in Manchester, vacant.
“In the case of Manchester, it could be a bit challenging to come up with a strong replacement for that store simply because of the size of the building and how you split it up and what are you going to do with it,” said Bob Sheehan, whose Massachusetts firm, KeyPoint Partners, prepares an annual report on the retail health of southern New Hampshire.
Sears, for generations a retail powerhouse, filed for bankruptcy last week and announced it was closing 142 Kmart and Sears stores.
Those closings include Sears stores at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, the Mall at Fox Run in Newington and the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem.
“Rockingham has the most upside because it’s the strongest of the three, but only time will tell what transpires there,” Sheehan said.
The Salem mall enjoys “the best tenant mix and the highest rents already,” he said.
An executive with Simon Malls, which owns the Manchester and Salem malls, expressed optimism.
“We see this as a terrific opportunity for The Mall at Rockingham Park and The Mall of New Hampshire to provide new offerings and compelling ways for consumers to dine, play, stay and shop at these…