Word of Kmart closing attracts bargain hunters, raises questions

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GREAT BARRINGTON>> The Kmart was a flurry of activity Thursday as the public rushed to take advantage of the retail outlet's liquidation in preparation for its closing in seven weeks.

"I'm here trying to catch the deals!" said Crockett McGarrity, of Housatonic.

The store began a liquidation sale of from 10 to 30 percent off everything in the store in advance of shutting down in early December. Higher discounts are expected as the closing date draws nearer.

The local Kmart was among 64 stores in 28 states that are being shut down. The decision came as a surprise to many in the Berkshires, including local government officials.

Most of the employees at the Great Barrington Kmart are either part-time or hourly workers, but it was not clear how many jobs would be lost.

One local media source has reported that Marshalls will take over the storefront. If so, many of the jobs lost with Kmart's departure could be regained — in theory.

Kimco Realty, the development company that owns the plaza, would not comment on the reports. Calls to TJX Cos., which owns Marshalls, were not returned in time for this story.

Once the job losses become reality, affected residents should take advantage of local programs that can help, said Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin.

"We recommend that impacted workers register at BerkshireWorks at 160 North Street in Pittsfield at 413-499-2220," Tabakin said in an email.

BerkshireWorks provides rapid response to laid off workers. Workers should bring in their layoff notices with them to the program. The program can help with employment opportunities and new job training.

But if Thursday's crowd was any indication employees of Kmart should see a lot of work before December.

All six cash registers were open and had lines in the early afternoon and a sizable crowd was making its way through the aisles, taking advantage of the discounted prices.

"It reminds me of Black Friday in here today," McGarrity said.


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