Quite frankly, when the electronics and appliance retailer H.H. Gregg announced at the beginning of March it was planning on closing 40 percent of its stores — but not North Riverside’s — our inclination was to think, “Oh yeah, just wait.”
It turns out we had the correct premonition. Last week, the company announced that if it doesn’t find a buyer by April 7, it’s liquidating the entire operation. We expect that scenario to play out in the upcoming days. By the end of May, be prepared to see another large empty retail outlet.
And after that, what? Sears doesn’t seem to be doing so well. In fact, the financial press is already running stories about what bankruptcy proceedings might mean for Sears. Meanwhile last month, J.C. Penney announced it was closing about 140 stores nationwide, and experts predict more on the way.
That’s all bad news for North Riverside, which depends on sales tax revenues to fund its operations. We predict the next four years will really test the village leaders’ ability to balance service levels with increasing realities that big-box retailers can’t be counted on to be the cash faucets they were back in the days before Amazon.
It’s not going to be an easy job.