Jake Brown and Erin Blasko, South Bend Tribune
SOUTH BEND — Retail stores have spent most of this year in free fall.
Consider the staggering number of announced closures in 2017: 6,375 as of Aug. 1, according to Business Insider.
RadioShack leads the way at 1,430. So-called big boxes like Kmart (210), Sears (98), JCPenney (138) and Macy's (68) have all been shuttering locations.
RadioShack closed its Ireland Road location on South Bend's south side, while hhgregg closed all its stores, including one at Indian Ridge Plaza in Mishawaka. All Family Christian stores closed too, sweeping up locations in Mishawaka and Elkhart. Another store in South Bend had closed in 2016.
Sears Holdings Corp. has been announcing wave after wave of closings at its two main properties — Sears and Kmart. Recent closures include the Sears in Elkhart and Kmart on McKinley Road in Mishawaka. They'll both be shuttered by fall.
As more and more brick-and-mortar stores are going dark amid increasing competition from online retailers like Apple and Amazon, the question of how to reuse them is only likely to get harder, requiring even greater creativity on the part of landlords and tenants.
When Charter Fitness moved into one-half of the former Barnes & Noble store on Grape Road in early 2014, the 34,000-square-foot property had been vacant for nearly five years, ever since the bookseller moved up the street to the new lifestyle center at University Park Mall. It took another two years to lease the rest of the property — to Vineyard Church.