August 18, 2017

Spotlight: Sears - Boyle Heights, CA

2650 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90023

Hello Kmart World readers, we are kicking off the first of four upcoming posts about Kmart and Sears stores in the Los Angeles, CA area. Today we are spotlighting this 90 year old historic Sears store in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.

Construction of the building in 1927. Courtesy of waterandpower.org

This Sears is located on the ground floor of the former Sears catalog mail order product distribution center which was closed down in 1992. The complex was built in 1927 and is over 1.8 million square feet. With the exception of the Sears Retail Store, the rest of the complex has been vacant since Sears moved it's operations out over 25 years ago. The website Urbanize LA toured the inside of the vacant sprawling complex in July 2016, you can view the pictures here. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2006. The building also has its own Wikipedia page, which can be viewed here. We toured this Sears store in July 2017 and all of the pictures posted here were taken during this time.

Shot of the distribution part of the building be redeveloped.

The entire complex with the exception of the Sears retail store is currently in the process of being redeveloped by a businessman who acquired it in 2013. There have been many attempts at redevelopment since the distribution center closed in 1992. The currently in progress redevelopment project plans can be viewed here. The project is moving slowly so it might not completely pan out. The Sears retail store is staying regardless of the development as it has a long-term lease on the building.

Sears is open during the redevelopment of the complex.

Moving on to the Sears store itself, it is a very unique location with a lot of history. The store is on the ground level with an escalator leading to the basement level of the store that features the Sears services. There are four different entrances to the store with only two of them currently being accessible to the public. There are two different parking lots to the store one on each side of the store front and back. The one parking lot features a double level entrance to the store, the bottom entrance is the basement level and is currently accessible to the public to enter. The top entrance is the ground level entrance and is currently closed and inaccessible to enter by. The other parking features the other store entrance that is currently accessible. On one side of that entrance is a Hispanic food stand and on the other side is a fenced in area that was more than likely a former garden center area. The other inaccessible entrance is on the side of the store that faces the street and looks to have been closed off for quite a while.

The bottom entrance is the basement level (publicly accessible), the top entrance is the ground level (currently inaccessible)

Continuing on to the inside of the store, it is a rather large Sears location that has a pretty extensive clothing selection considering a lot of Sears stores are down sizing and moving away from clothing. The store itself seems to be fairly well maintained (by Sears standards) and has updated signage. You can definitely tell it's an old store by a lot of the unique architectural elements (as seen in some of the pictures.) It also has the usual Sears departments including shoes, baby, accessories, home, tools, appliances, mattresses, and it even still has a (downsized) electronics department. One department it didn't have or at least we couldn't find was automotive products.

Downsized electronics department.

All merchandise departments are on the main ground level of the store. Once you go down the escalator to the basement level, it features the Sears services area. A lot of this area is now empty and curtained off though. There's still an optical department, watch and jewelry repair, and a clearance clothing area. Other than those, everything else is empty and closed off. There's a former salon and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and more than likely one of the other closed areas was a portrait studio.

Basement level with closed services on each side.

There's so many interesting little quirks about this store and its 90 years of existence. Please checkout the rest of the pictures of the store below and feel free to leave you comments on what you think!

This Sears even used to have a gas station! Courtesy of waterandpower.org

Ongoing renovations, not sure what this area was originally.


This entrance is basically used as the main entrance now.




Iconic Sears sign that can be seen for miles in all directions.











Picture hanging in the basement level, notice the Sears building on the right.

Clearance area in the basement level.




Former salon in the basement level.

Sign on the wall in the basement level.


Closed off ground level entrance that is above the basement level entrance.












These were all over the store.


















This is the other store entrance that is closed off, it is the street store entrance.




Looking at the distribution part of the building.

Closed small shops attached to the store.

Pick up area on the side of the store.

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