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Many thought it was only a matter of time, but now it's officially the end of an era in Michigan City.

Sears, the original everything store and long the largest retailer in the United States, announced it would close 40 more stores as it looks to restructure in Chapter 11 bankruptcy court. The Sears department store at 3901 Franklin St. in the Marquette Mall in Michigan City will be shuttered for good in February.

"As part of Sears Holdings' processes to accelerate its strategic transformation and facilitate its financial restructuring, on Nov. 8 the company informed associates at 40 stores that we will be closing these Sears and Kmart stores in February 2019," the company said in a statement. "Liquidation sales at these stores are expected to begin late next week."

The closures announced Thursday are in addition to the previously announced closure of 142 unprofitable stores expected to be completed near the end of the year.

Sears is already liquidating inventory at the Big Kmart at 430 W. Ridge Road in Griffith Park Plaza in Griffith, which will be closed after Christmas.

The Sears in the Southlake Mall in Hobart and the Kmart in Valparaiso will be the troubled Hoffman Estates-based retailer's last remaining stores in the Region, if it survives the bankruptcy process, which is not a given.

Sears was the last anchor store remaining in the 53-year-old, 481,446-square-foot Marquette Mall in Michigan City.

J.C. Penney's closed in 2015, the nearly empty interior of the mall was closed off a year later. And Carson's shuttered earlier this summer after that department store chain went bankrupt.

The Marquette Mall's few remaining tenants — Planet Fitness, GNC and the Michigan City LaPorte Convention and Visitors Bureau — are oriented toward Franklin Street traffic, as if the massive enclosed mall were a strip mall.

Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer has said the city would hope to work with a developer to tear down the Marquette Mall and bring in a more modern retail development along the busy commercial artery.

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have been faltering around the nation and in the Region in recent years, as more shoppers gravitate online.

Over the last few years, the long list of closures in Northwest Indiana includes Sports Authority, MC Sports, H.H. Gregg, Carson's and multiple Sears and Kmart stores.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.