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Local shops fill void as major retailers close in Helena

Posted at 6:25 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 18:03:08-04

Many major chain department stores have been closing their doors in recent years, leaving Montana shoppers with a few choices.

This is leaving Montana shoppers with few choices, but can small business carry the quantity of major department stores?

“it's upsetting to see places closing when I first moved out here there were a lot more of the big stores as well as home owned shops. And, as well as closing my own small store now. And now seeing Macy’s go and K-Mart,” said Lucy Davis, who is a consumer in Helena.

Macy’s will be closing their doors in less than two weeks, but before that it was Sears filing for bankruptcy, which led to two major chains saying goodbye to the Capital City.

It was entrepreneurs like Walter Deege, who started up Sears Hometown store, that is trying to pick up some of the pieces.

“Sears Hometown store, I got introduced to it a little over a year ago, when I found out the existing Sears store was going to go out of business,” said Deege.

Sears Hometown stores operate under the name of the legendary department store, but are independently-owned stores.

“A group of individuals started the Sears Hometown store as a separate entity. They brought a product that was sold at Sears through the bankruptcy, and started the hometown store,” said Deege.

Another consumer spending theory for the declining fall of retail stores, is that buyers are clicking over to online, but the National Retail Federation said that is not necessarily true.

The top 50 online retailers, nearly all operator stores, and online sales only make 10% of all retail sales.

For shoppers in Helena, Davis said, she is a little worried for local retail stores, both big and small.

“I think, we are going to have trouble in town if we don’t have some of these bigger stores, as well as the mom and pop shops,” said Davis.