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The end to blue light specials is coming in March to Hamilton.

Hamilton’s Kmart will close its doors for the last time on March 6 after 33 years of serving the Bitterroot Valley.

Hamilton’s Kmart manager, Robert Davis, had hoped the store would remain open longer, but he and other employees learned about the corporation’s decision to close the last Kmart in Montana on Thursday.

“We didn’t know it was coming,” Davis said. “We were all in shock. We knew the company was downsizing, but we hoped that it would last a little longer.”

Before the announcement, the Hamilton store was the last of a dozen Kmarts that remained open in the country. The once-powerful retail chain had fallen on tough times when a holding company took control following the bankruptcy of Sears and Kmart and began liquidating stores across the country.

In its heyday in the '60s, '70s and '80s, Kmart had 2,500 stores across the country.

Davis said the employees of the Hamilton store were proud to have been among the last dozen that continued to operate.

Davis is only the second person to manage the Hamilton store in its 33-year history. In some cases, there have been families with three or four generations who have worked at the store.

“Our customers are telling us they are sad to see us go,” he said. “We thought maybe we would be able to hang on, but the decision was made at the corporate level. We have deep roots here in the community.’

Davis said he has no idea what might become of the building. He said the landlords were as surprised as the employees at hearing the news of the closure.

“I know that I love this area and I plan to stay here," Davis said.

The liquidation sale will get underway Thursday at 9 a.m.

This article originally ran on Content Exchange