Retail takes a hit

With demise of Sears comes other possible closures; farewell to Midtown Local; and local olive oil companies take home awards

It’s been a busy spring here in the North State. We’ve learned about the impending closure of Sears, which, frankly, isn’t all that surprising given the sales that store has reported over the past couple of years. Blame it on Amazon. Well, maybe blame it on the Web in general. A Forbes article out this week suggests that mobile deal-shopping is actually the No. 1 killer of brick-and-mortars; online shopping is No. 2.

As we say goodbye to Sears, stock up on those DieHard batteries, Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools—they may not be available forever. Which is strange, right? For as long as I can remember, those brands were standards, with good warranties and customer service. Now what? Well, to head off bankruptcy, Sears sold Craftsman back in January to Stanley Black & Decker (for $900 million!). We’ll see what happens with the other two.

So far, local Kmarts appear to be safe (Kmart and Sears share a parent company). But I’ll be watching for more closures. I’ve yet to go to Chico’s Kmart and find it fully stocked or full of people. Some other familiar companies that have filed for bankruptcy so far this year: rue21 (May 15), Payless ShoeSource (April 4), RadioShack (closed locally last month) and Wet Seal (closed earlier this year).

And yet others at “serious risk of bankruptcy,” according to Money Magazine: 99 Cents Only Stores, Claire’s, David’s Bridal. JC Penney is also on my watch list.

More farewells Last week, I was sad see a farewell message on Facebook from Midtown Local, one of my go-to spots for meetups downtown. The ambiance was pleasant, the staff always friendly and the coffee delicious. Apparently, owners Brian and Carolyn Kanabrocki were in the midst of selling the place when the sale fell through. I know they’re working overtime to expand their other local hub, The Handle Bar, so I wish them luck in that endeavor.

Hello, goodbye Last week, Oroville celebrated the opening of its new Walmart supercenter—and the closure of the old store, just a hop, skip and a jump down Feather River Boulevard. Here are my hopes for the change-over: 1) The superstore doesn’t take out any mom-and-pop shops. And 2) The old store is truly turned into alternative retail, as has been promised, and isn’t reduced to blight. Time will tell.

Kudos to you And now for something completely different. I got an email from a reader letting me know that, last month, Berkeley Olive Grove 1913, with its home base in the foothills of Oroville, took home a couple of awards from the New York International Olive Oil Competition. For its Mission Classic, it received gold. And for its Mission Reserve, it got silver. In looking through the list of winners, there were some other locals that deserve some praise: Lucero’s Barnea and Woodson Blend took home gold awards, while its Five Star Blend, Piqual and Miller’s Blend took silver. California Olive Ranch’s Arbequina and Miller’s Blend won gold prizes, while its Every Day took a silver.