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Toys R Us closes

Mark Hoffman of Capital Signs and Graphics removes the rented 'Going out of business' sign from the Queensbury Toys R Us store after it closed in June.

It was a bad year for retail in the area.

Sears and Bon-Ton closed at Aviation Mall, Toys R Us went out of business everywhere, and a still-operating Kmart in Queensbury was sold in bankruptcy court to U-Haul. 

On Friday, Sears Holdings Corp. officially announced the closure of the Queensbury store and the Greenwich location on state Route 29.

The Toys R Us seemed to be the biggest loss. Hundreds of customers brought their children to the Queensbury store for one last shopping trip during the three-month closing sale.

By the end, some managers and employees had quit, and employees nationwide lobbied for severance pay. They cried foul when executives were given millions of dollars in bonuses, while employees were laid off with nothing. Last month, two of the private equity firms that owned Toys R Us agreed to pay about $600 per employee.

The firms also canceled a bankruptcy auction of the brand name and want to rebuild at least an online presence. New stores may be opened in the future.

In Aviation Mall, the closures of Sears and Bon-Ton left two huge vacant spaces. By the end of the year, mall management was close to a deal on multiple businesses for the Bon-Ton space, including a large entertainment company and one or more retail stores. But Sears is in limbo. Until the space is released in bankruptcy court, the mall can’t lease it to a new company.

Mall Manager James Griffith hopes to reinvigorate the Sears side of the mall with new occupants that draw in much more traffic. He has said that a big draw on that side could lift the mall up and even revitalize the food court.

At the Kmart, U-Haul officials plan to reuse the large building as a self-storage center. The company will also rent moving vehicles and store its u-boxes, which can be left in a renter’s driveway and filled with items over a period of days, then stored at the former Kmart until the renter is ready to move into a new home.

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