1050 S. Babcock St., Melbourne, FL
This Sears store opened in 1968, coinciding with the opening of the neighboring (now dead) Brevard Mall, which featured Montgomery Ward and JCPenney as its anchors (more on that here, though). In 2015, this store was sold to Seritage Properties as part of SHC's controversial REIT deal, which is typically not a good sign for the long-term future of a Sears or Kmart store. Even with that being the case, this Sears location was supposedly a "Top 200" store from what a few employees told me, citing this Sears location had particularly strong sales in clothing. As usual, Eddie doesn't care about any of that, and this Sears store was marked for closure during SHC's initial bankruptcy filing in October 2018. Liquidation sales had begun here in late October 2018, with the store closing for good on January 6, 2019 at 1:45pm.
Sunday, January 6, 2019 - Approximately 1:00pm: So the day has come. After a little over two months of liquidating, January 6, 2019 marked the last day in business for the Melbourne Sears store. With that being the case, I had to make my way over to this store for one last visit before this place closed for good. In today's post we'll wrap up my extensive coverage of the Melbourne Sears store as it went through the liquidation process, with some very sad photos of this once mighty Sears store...
The signs in the window reinforce what I just said - this was the Melbourne Sears store's final day in operation after 50 years at this site.
Heading inside, what do we find but, well, not much of anything. I didn't realize this at first, but I had arrived at this store about 45 minutes before the doors would close for the final time. With that being said, the merchandise picking weren't very extensive...
In this photo, you can see all of the merchandise that remained - a small selection of ladies' bathing suits for 95% off located between the front doors and the register. That was it. There was no other merchandise for sale except for those bathing suits. Going to a store on its last day in business is a rather odd experience, seeing all the emptiness and the random merchandise that remains.
While some devoted bargain hunters dug through those remaining racks of bathing suits, I chose a different option - taking one last lap around the store before it was sealed off for good. Unlike many other closing sales, the empty parts of the sales floor here were not roped off on this final day. The entire sales floor was free to roam about, just like any other day of business here over the last 50 years. Here we're on the other side of the main front registers from the previous photo, looking toward the side entrance by the old optical department. Part of the jewelry counter can be seen poking out at the left side of this image too.
Speaking of the jewelry counter, here it is. There wasn't any jewelry left to buy here, although two employees were sitting behind the jewelry counter chatting. At this point, there really wasn't much left for the employees to do but sit back and reminisce.
Here's more of the empty women's clothing department, as seen from the transition into men's clothing.
Turning around from where I took that previous image, here's a look into the former men's clothing department. Like every other department in this store, the men's section was completely empty.
Nothing but tumbleweeds here now...
Here's a look from children's clothing back toward the men's department. Some items from the fixture sale were spilling out into this area. Besides those bathing suits near the front entrance, fixtures were the only other items available for purchase here so close to the end.
The empty children's clothing department, looking back toward housewares.
A grand aisle of emptiness now...
Here's a look back toward the main entrance, where a few people were lining up at the register with their 95% off bargains.
This would have been the ladies' lingerie section I was standing in, looking toward shoes in the front left corner of the building.
All sales final...if you could find anything left to buy, that is...
Leaving some of these empty sections of the store behind us, let's head into the area where the fixture sales were being held. That's where the action begins to pick up once again.
As you would expect at a retail liquidation, there were plenty of racks, shelves, stands, and tables for sale in the fixtures department.
On the right side of this image was a floor sample mattress that someone had purchased in the days prior. Going into the final hour of the sale, the person who had bought the mattress had yet to come pick it up. There was an employee over here on the phone trying to get through to the person who had bought this, trying to inform the customer they had very little time left to get their mattress home!
In between the racks and shelves and such, there were some more interesting items to be found amongst the fixture sale. For example, if you really wanted one of Sears' cash registers, this one could have been all yours for only $50! This was the first time I've ever seen the registers themselves as part of a Sears/Kmart liquidation, so they were really selling out to the bare walls here...
I found this sign digging through a pile of junk on a cart that someone had dragged out for the fixture sale. Unfortunately I didn't buy this sign, which advertised reserved parking for purchase pickup customers. When I was here I was in the mindset of finding some classic Sears souvenirs to take home with me, so this sign didn't make the cut. However, the people running this fixture sale could have cared less if items had logos or trademarks on them, so I probably could have gotten this sign for 25 cents (the fixture manager's favorite price for everything I showed interest in buying). Honestly, the fixture sale here was one of the most laid back ones I've attended, with some of the friendliest staff too. I wish that was a more common occurrence to find, as I've heard some horror stories about buying fixtures from closing stores (including some negative experiences of my own too).
Moving along into the hardware department, the fixture sale continued up this way with more random shelves, desks, tables and whatnot.
The merchandise pickup entrance can be seen in the background of this photo, with the hardware department register just out of frame to my right.
An example of some of the emptiness in one of this store's hardware aisles.
This area would have been home to the large hardware items and lawnmowers during normal operations here.
The empty seasonal department in the back right corner of this store is pictured here.
Moving along to the appliance department, you can see that all of those were gone too, not even a stray floor model left for sale.
The far right portion of the appliance department was still being used as a sold fixture pickup area.
Leaving appliances, here's a look back into the men's clothing department, or better put, where the men's clothing used to be kept.
We're almost out of time here at the Melbourne Sears store. 1:45pm is swiftly approaching...
But before we exit, first, an announcement:
"For your shopping convenience, Sears will not reopen tomorrow morning. And as always, thank you for shopping at Sears." This message was announced over the PA system quite a few times while I was here, which is what tipped me off to the fact that I was here so close to the end. And it was to the end I stayed, leaving this store with the last few shoppers a little after 1:45pm on January 6, 2019. I even watched as one of the employees ripped down the sign with the store's hours on the front door, replacing that sign with a note stating the store was now permanently closed 😢.
So through those dark doors we must now go, as the Melbourne Sears store is now gone for good...
...empty, lifeless, and sealed up tight as you can see here. The above photo was taken about a week after this store closed for good. The Sears sign was removed shortly after the doors were locked for the last time, the labelscars painted over in fresh white paint. I'm actually surprised the Sears logo was taken down here, as many Sears and Kmart stores closed during the bankruptcy never had their signs taken down. Since I took this photo, the hurricane shutters over all the doors and windows on this building have been rolled down, sealing this place off from any vandals. As of May 2019, this building still sits vacant, a for lease sign now in front of the building facing the intersection of NASA Boulevard and Babcock Street. I think I've said this before, but my gut feeling is this building will either become home to offices of some kind, or be town down for offices of some kind. Most of the retail along this stretch of Babcock Street has succumbed to reuse as office space in recent years, and I feel this building will meet that same fate. I'd really like to be proven wrong though and see retail of some kind come back to this site, but at this point, who knows what will happen here.
While my coverage of the closing of the Melbourne Sears store is now complete, I'll be keeping my eye on this property to see what exactly the future may hold for this old Sears building. Until that day comes, that's a wrap (at least from me) from the Melbourne Sears store. Hopefully it will be a long time before I have to do another store closing chronicle like this one again!
Anyway, until the next post,