My turn

Cal City takes a hit as it loses Sears

2013-05-16T00:00:00Z Cal City takes a hit as it loses SearsGeorge Grenchik Times Columnist
May 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I was straightening out and sorting some of the clutter and stuff that I, and I imagine some of you, live with. I scooped up a solitary plastic bag to put with the others I keep to either reuse as a garbage bag or to recycle at Strack’s. Strack’s has a barrel for collecting plastic bags. They also will give you a 5 cent credit on your bill if you bring your own bag to use for your purchases.

Anyway, in that one bag was a receipt for some pants I bought at Sears in River Oaks. On the receipt in larger and bolder lettering than the rest of the receipt, were the words “ALL SALES FINAL”. Not fair ... this is America. We can always return stuff we just bought.

The finality of the sale, of course, was because Sears at River Oaks will be closing soon.

Not an immediate problem. I tried the pants on prior to buying them, and I’ve always had good luck with the things I’ve bought from Sears over the years.

But that is not part of the long-term problem. It's not because of the nostalgia factor Sears has for some people, but because Sears was one of the linchpins of River Oaks Mall, and thereby an economic engine of Calumet City. A substantial portion of the operational income of the city and the school districts is from property and sales tax revenues, and a substantial part of those are generated from River Oaks.

I talked a couple of times to folks working at Sears who tell me business has not been bad. One salesperson told me that business was good but she guessed not good enough for the corporate types who call the shots.

Sears nationwide has not had a good run of it as buying and marketing trends and habits change and maybe Sears did not adapt or find its identity. The River Oaks Sears, it seems, is a victim of that corporate situation.

Carson’s in River Oaks and other businesses have closed, too. Yet there are some businesses that have come in — Pete’s Fresh Market, Sonic, and the Sam’s Club are relatively recent. And one of the Napleton dealerships is moving to Calumet City.

I guess with Calumet City abutting the Indiana state line, differences in all kinds of taxes make it hard for businesses to make a go of it, especially in the eastern half of the city.

Personally I often shop at Strack’s in Hammond because it’s the closest large grocery outlet to my home, and you do notice the difference in sales tax.

Overall though, it’s still a good idea to follow the advice of my friend and former alderman, Ed Gonzalez, who used to encourage folks at the City Council meetings to shop and do business in Calumet City.

If the state approves a casino in the south suburbs, it might not be too long before we see a lot of Illinois money and business that now flow into Indiana, stay in Illinois. We’ll see.

Thanks for reading.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. George Grenchik is a longtime Calumet City resident and retired instructor at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond. He can be reached at

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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