Glen Oaks Kmart to close due to bankruptcy trouble

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The ax has fallen for the third time the Glen Oaks Shopping Mall. Kmart announced Friday it plans to shutter its Glen Oaks branch along with 283 stores nationwide.

The retail outlet in the shopping center at 258-01 Union Turnpike was the third anchor store to make a go at being the foundation of the mall, which also houses a Waldbaum’s, Duane Reade and Sandor Indian Restaurant as well as a number of other chain and local stores.

The Glen Oaks closing had been widely expected after the Detroit Free Press released a list of the likely candidates to be shuttered last month.

“It is my closest store,” said Joan Ortiz of New Hyde Park. “I love this store. It is very reasonable and has everything I want. I love this store. I hate to see it go.”

Valeri Telese of Glen Oaks, who was shopping with her children, said she was upset the store was closing because it was the only one of its kind in the neighborhood. She said she was hoping a Wal-Mart would replace the Kmart.

“An everything store,” she said, “is just what the community needs.”

Mays was the first store to make a go at it followed by a Caldor and most recently Kmart. The retail chain planned to close the Glen Oaks site as part of its restructuring effort under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Kmart has two other stores in the borough at 61-11 188th St. in Fresh Meadows and 66-26 Metropolitan Ave. in Maspeth. Both of those stores will remain open.

“The decision to close these underperforming stores, which do not meet our financial requirements going forward, is an integral part of the company’s reorganiza­tion,” said Charles Conaway, the chain’s chief executive officer. “We are confident that doing so will provide the company with a healthier, more productive store base.”

Conaway resigned from Kmart Monday.

The Troy, Mich.-based retailer announced Jan. 22 it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors and secured a $2 billion financing package to reorganize. The third biggest retail chain in the United States behind Wal-Mart and Target is waiting for approval of the store shutterings from bankruptcy judge in Chicago March 20. The company hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 by 2003.

According to the retail chain, the store closings will generate savings of $550 million in 2002 and $45 million annually thereafter. The closings are expected to improve the company’s earnings — before interest, tax and deprecation — by about $31 million.

Under a Chapter 11 filing, the clock stops on all the company’s past debt, giving it breathing room to restructure as long as it meets its current debts. The company must also work out a plan to repay creditors at least part of the debts owed.

The company said it decided to file for bankruptcy for a number of reasons, including lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results in 2001, fierce competition and the recession.

Sylvia Katz, who travels to the store from Kew Garden Hills, said she likes the Glen Oaks store better then the Fresh Meadows Kmart. Her sister Ruth agreed, and said she wanted a Wal-Mart.

Sylvia said she preferred a flea market similar to the Metro flea-market that used to operate in the shopping center years ago.

“It is very depressing,” said Diana Dilone of Flushing. “To tell you the truth, I love this store. I hate to travel to the other discount stores in the area. I like this store because it is bigger and parking is convenient.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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