Sears stores close their doors for the last time

Sears, which opened in 1952 closed its doors for the last time in New Brunswick today. Many of its customers and employees said they are sadden by the loss of the store and its Canadian legacy.

Sears closed its New Brunswick locations today for the last time

The store declared bankruptcy earlier this year leaving thousands without jobs and many loyal customers without their favourite big box store. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Sears is locking up its doors for the last time today  — and many people, including its customers and loyal employees, are feeling the loss.

Wanda Hargrove worked for the company for 40 years. Today she lost her job, but with the store's closure she's lost what she describes as her family.

Wanda Hargrove worked in every department of Sears for 40 years and even returned after retiring because she loved her job. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Hargrove even returned to work at Sears after her retirement because she felt so connected to a retailer that gave her her first job.

"[I feel] sadness," she said. "I was just a little girl when I started here."

Sears first opened in 1952 and the company's catalogue sales skyrocketed. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Hargrove worked in every department the store has.

"I learned a lot," she said.

She will miss talking with the customers the most, though she found the four months since Sears announced the closure to be a struggle.

The Simpson-Sears opened in Woodstock, New Brunswick on March 2, 1973. (New Brunswick Provincial Archives)

Hargrove said there were many teary days, and many of the employees plan to meet up on the first Tuesday of every month.

The history of Sears

The company opened its first store in 1952 as Simpson-Sears, a collaboration between Robert Simpson and Sears Roebuck Co. in the United States. 

The company had success through catalog sales and continue to grow into online ordering, in a partnership with IBM and Bell Canada.

Harold Buckingham remembers the store in its heyday. 

The Simpson-Sears in Fredericton opened in the downtown on Queen Street on March 4, 1970. (New Brunswick Provincial Archives)

"I was quite sad when I went in there today," he said. "When I was a kid, they had the best wrenches and the best tools."

Woodstock got its first Sears in 1967, followed by the Moncton Simpson-Sears in 1970 and then the Fredericton store in 1973.

Customers are also sad to see the landmark store go.

"It's sad, a lot people are losing their jobs," said Francis Chapman.

As for Wanda Hargrove, she said she has many irons in the fire for the next move in her life. She hopes to get in touch with her artsy side.

With files from Catherine Harrop