Hickory Ridge Sears Ready for Business

By Andy Meek

It hasn’t yet been a week since the storms that wreaked havoc across the Memphis area Tuesday produced a tornado that smashed through the Hickory Ridge Mall and tore out a wall of the mall’s Sears store, among other damage it caused.

But reopenings at the mall now are under way. The nearly 130,000-square-foot Sears store at Hickory Ridge, thanks to the help of generators and temporary fixes to the store’s physical surroundings, is scheduled to reopen Sunday, according to a company spokeswoman.

Structural engineers were dispatched by Sears to the mall the day after the storm. By Friday morning, the decision had been made to open again.

“The store is in the process of completing a temporary wall and fencing for the damaged exterior,” Sears spokeswoman Kimberly Freely said today.

There’s still no word on long-term plans for the rest of the 856,000-square-foot mall, which is a major component of the Hickory Hill community. Hickory Hill was among the hardest-hit Memphis areas during Tuesday's storm, a fact to which Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division president Jerry Collins recently attested.

“The restoration inside the Hickory Hill area is not a repair situation. It’s a rebuild situation,” Collins said the day after the storm. “And we’re talking weeks.”

Freely said the mall still is without power and Sears will get by, for now, on generators to power the store. The Hickory Ridge Sears store has about 100 employees.

Hickory Ridge general manager Pat Jacobs could not be reached for comment about the rest of the mall. A message dated Feb. 7 on the mall’s Web site reads: “At Hickory Ridge Mall it is our goal to get back to normal as soon as possible.

“We will have to take several steps to get there. Presently, we have engaged structural engineers who are assessing the damage at the mall, which will take several days. We are also putting plans into place to clean, salvage and repair the damages.”