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After two decades in business, Griffith’s largest retail store closes forever on Sunday, Jan. 6.

The Big Kmart store at Ridge Road and Cline Avenue is shutting down for good after shoppers picked its shelves clean during a liquidation sale.

It’s a victim of the bankruptcy of the iconic Sears, a 132-year-old institution that was the original "everything" store and long America’s largest retailer. But Sears has failed to turn a profit since 2010, losing $11 billion over the last eight years.

Sears notified the state of Indiana with a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN notice, that 113 workers would be laid off when the Big Kmart closes. Residents of nearby neighborhoods in Griffith, Highland and unincorporated Calumet Township also lost a pharmacy and the Little Ceasar's pizzeria inside.

Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa said last year that the closing could result in the demolition of the entire Griffith Park Plaza shopping center that was once home to Service Merchandise and Griffith Park Cinema.

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Menard’s, which has a big-box store less than two miles east on Ridge Road in Gary, has expressed interest in relocating its store to the site and another national retailer also has eyed that location, Ryfa said. The town is keen to work with any developers on completely redeveloping the site, because of the age and condition of the buildings and the overabundance of parking spaces, which amount to little more than dead space, he said.

The Griffith Kmart was a Venture store until 1998, when the O’Fallon, Missouri-based chain went bankrupt, unloading the store at 430 W. Ridge Road in Griffith in an effort to raise $95 million to pay its creditors.

Griffith Park Plaza dates back to the 1970s. The site previously had been home to the Ridge Road Drive-In.

Recap: A look at businesses that closed in Northwest Indiana in 2018

Recap: A look at businesses that closed in Northwest Indiana in 2018

Some have been called 2017 the "retailpocalypse" because of the stunning number of brick-and-mortar stores that have been closing across the country.

More businesses were shuttered in the Region and south suburbs in 2018. Find out which closed their doors in 2018 here:

urgent

Brightwood College is closing campuses nationwide, with some locations offering their last classes as early as this Friday.

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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.