STEVENSVILLE — Kmart’s owner TransformCo on Friday, Sept. 6, confirmed rumors of plans to close the Kent Island store.
“After careful review, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to close the Kmart store in Stevensville, Maryland,” said Larry Costello, TransformCo public relations director, in an email statement to Bay Times. “The liquidation sale is expected to begin in mid-September and the store is planned to close by mid-December. We encourage customers to continue shopping on Kmart.com for all their product needs.”
TransformCo declined to comment on how many employees they have in Stevensville or what will happen to them. The store manager referred all questions back to the corporate office.
According to a list of major employers in Queen Anne’s County compiled by the Maryland Department of Commerce in 2015, Kmart employed 99 people. However, the store does not appear on the shorter list on the Brief Economic Facts for the county this year.
Jean Fabi, economic development manager with the Queen Anne’s County Department of Economic and Tourism Development, said she believes the store employees around 60 people, according to data she has from the Commerce Dept.
“Kmart is the only big box store we have in the county,” she said. With it leaving, she said she sees the need for a well-rounded retailer, maybe even another grocery store.
Fabi said she noted community support for a Target in chatter on social media and maybe that’s a possibility.
“I want to see this as an opportunity,” Fabi said. “It’s a large space, maybe it’s more than one retailer. I’m going to try really diligently to give attention to that site and work closely with the listing agent.”
In addition to being a large employer in the county, the Kmart in Kent Landing Shopping Center has supported numerous local charities and organizations over the years, including donating $20,000 to replace the playground equipment at Bayside Elementary and contributing to Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department’s capital campaign for the new fire house. The store has been a supporter of the Adopt-a-Bear program and the Kent Island Optimist Club’s Shop With a Cop event.