After 94 years serving the Boyle Heights community, the historic Sears store on the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Soto Street is holding its final sale.
What will happen to the building remains unclear— the company that owns Sears, Transformco, has not indicated whether a new renter has been found. The Boyle Heights Sears building still houses the department store on the ground floor, while the rest of the building sits largely empty. For the surrounding community, the loss of the Sears is both historical and practical; the store has long been a cornerstone for Latinos living in Boyle Heights, and is one of the only big-box stores in the area. But its closure is not particularly surprising, as in-store retail has declined in recent decades and developers began eyeing the property years ago. Izek Shomof, a Los Angeles-based developer, purchased the Sears building in 2013 as part of a project consisting of residential units, offices, restaurants and workspaces. The project has not advanced, however, and the residential idea has been scrapped. For community members wanting to keep gentrification at bay, redevelopment plans have raised concerns about rising prices and displacement in Boyle Heights.
Today on AirTalk, we’re learning more about the history and local significance of the Boyle Heights Sears store and other community retail touchstones. Did you grow up going to the Boyle Heights Sears, or another store that served as a community hub? What do these store closures mean to you? Give us a call at 866-893-5722.
Michael Lisicky, retail writer and contributor to many outlets including Forbes.com, where he authored the recent piece, “A 94-Year-Old Sears Store Has Never Given Up On A Los Angeles Neighborhood, But That May Soon Change”