- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003

TROY, Mich., Jan. 31 (UPI) — Kmart's decision to pull out of 25 national markets means good buys for customers.

For the next month the bankrupt retailer is holding clearance sales at 318 stores being closed as part of the discounters reorganization plan. Liquidations began in earnest Thursday in Anchorage Alaska; Yuma, Ariz.; New Haven, Conn.; Lawrence, Kan.; Lafayette and Monroe, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Lincoln, Neb.; Mansfield, Ohio; Amarillo, Texas; Beaumont, Sherman, Tyler, Waco, Galveston, Houston, San Antonio, Odessa, and Wichita Falls, Texas; Richland, Wash.; and Madison, Wis.

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When the liquidation sales are completed in April, Kmart will still operate stores in 289 metropolitan areas.

Cruising for closeouts could be a good deal since every customer of a closing store will receive $150 in coupons and maps directing them to Kmart's surviving 1,500 stores. Coupons for Joe Boxer apparel, Martha Stewart housewares and Sesame Street infant clothes are included in the "Savings are here to stay" promotion.

Shoppers who transfer prescriptions to a new Kmart pharmacy will get a $10 gift certificate.

Kmart filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in January 2002 and will have closed nearly 600 stores and eliminated more than 65,000 positions by the time it emerges from bankruptcy by April 30. The retailer will be about two-thirds the size it was when it entered bankruptcy.

"While the closing of Kmart stores in certain markets is a necessary part of Kmart's drive to emerge from Chapter 11 as quickly as possible, we understand how it affects our loyal consumer base," said President and Chief Executive Officer Julian Day.

Kmart is closing 362 more stores and abandoning some markets as part of its strategy to compete with rivals Wal-Mart and Target Corp.

Kmart fired 75 store operations supervisors this week and more layoffs are possible at Kmart's Troy, Mich., headquarters.

Meanwhile, the government has warned writers of at least 65 anonymous letters that they can be charged with obstruction of justice unless they come forward to back up claims of management improprieties.

The FBI, Securities and Exchange Commission and the House Energy and Commerce Committee all want to talk to potential whistleblowers about their allegations of corporate corruption.

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