Regardless, a recent decision by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and City Council members to compose a letter to Sears Holdings asking that the local Sears store’s planned shuttering be delayed by at least 12 months is certainly a plausible strategy.
The Council’s encouragement to Cleveland and Bradley County residents to follow suit with letters or phone calls to Sears Customer Relations asking the same is also an appropriate measure. Any who would doubt its worth might look to the Ledford Automotive Center whose own community support convinced General Motors not only to retain the Cleveland dealership, but also to grant it the Chevrolet nameplate which went missing with the closing of longtime community partner and friend Hall Chevrolet.
Even since the Council’s announced campaign in trying to save the Bradley Square Mall’s Sears store, our hometown was hit with another disclosure by a second locally represented company. Delhaize America, the corporate parent to Food Lion, announced its intent to shut down one of two Cleveland stores and six in the Chattanooga area which includes four North Georgia communities — Chatsworth, Fort Oglethorpe, Rossville and Trenton.
Cleveland has long served as a competitive marketplace for the grocery industry. It is likely a reason some chains have not come to town by now. Over the years, several names have failed. Some have succeeded, only to face eventual closure at the hands of new competitors or corporate acquisitions.
Salvaging the Food Lion store on APD 40 is not considered likely because its corporate parent describes it — along with 119 fellow sites nationally — as underperforming locations; and, the move is considered part of a total strategy to re-market the Food Lion name.
Some of the same can be said for Sears.
The Cleveland outlet, a pivotal anchor in the local mall which is nearing its own massive remodeling, redevelopment and growth plan, could be another matter if corporate leaders consider the opinion of Dale Hughes, 5th District councilman who brainstormed the letter-writing campaign. In Hughes’ assessment, the Cleveland and Bradley County community has strong potential — too strong, he believes, to lose a major merchant of the Sears caliber.
His reasoning is based on common sense. The local community is in the middle of a significant growth pattern. Southeast Tennessee is inarguably the fastest-growing corridor in the state and one of the most progressive nationwide.
With growth will come continued population increase, Hughes reasons. And this means more consumers who will patronize multiple local merchants — including Bradley Square Mall and specifically the local Sears outlet.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, a longtime ambassador who enjoys nothing better than bragging about his city, is on board with the campaign, as is At-Large Councilman George Poe who even provided the contact information at the most recent Council session.
For those wishing to voice your opinion to Sears Holdings about keeping the local outlet, you should call Sears Customer Relations at 1-800-549-4505 and express your opposition to closing store No. 02345 or send an email to the company at http://searsholdings.com/about/loc.htm.
The Council is not seeking miracles. It is asking Sears simply to give Cleveland and Bradley County the benefit of the doubt. If future growth and population increases don’t add to Sears’ bottom line in Cleveland within a year’s time, then so be it.
But give growth a chance; at least, this is the Council’s view.
We believe it is sound reasoning.