Walmart Buys Out Southeast Side Strip Mall

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The Kmart in the Southgate Shopping Center on 11th Street could soon be a thing of the past.

Walmart bought the property and one local business owner says the superstore is moving in when the Big K’s lease is up.

For eight years we’ve been able to clean our clothes at the Quick Wash Laundromat. Now, business owner John Bowes says he feels like a piece of laundry, being flipped on his head, and spun around.

“You get your life savings into the business and all the hours and hours that you’ve spent over the years trying to make a go of it, and then all of a sudden one day, out. It’s not nice,” says Bowes.

Walmart recently bought the strip mall at the corner of 11th Street and Sandy Hollow. Bowes says when their leases are up, he and Kmart will be kicked out so the Supercenter can move in.

“I asked them if they would help me relocate to keep going on and they said no. When your lease is out, you’re out,” said Bowes.

The possibility of the Big K moving out isn’t bad news for everyone, in fact some shoppers and business owners say it’s needed in this area.

Inside the Southgate Mini Mall at Rockford Cell Tech, owner Latoya Warren expects to see a boom in business when Walmart moves in.

“It will drive more traffic over here. The only thing is we don’t sell the things that Walmart sells, so we don’t have to worry about that. The only thing that we can benefit from is their traffic,” says Warren.

Some shoppers say they can’t wait for the change.

“I think people like to shop more at Walmart than Kmart. Prices are cheaper,” says shopper Helen Mitchell.
The price of finding a new location for the Quick Wash Laundromat may be too much ford Bowes. He’s preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

Bowes has two more years left on his lease.

Kmart’s lease runs through 2020. It's spokesperson didn't want to comment on what it will do after the lease expires, saying it's still five years off and a lot can happen in that time. We left messages for Walmart, but didn’t hear back.

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