At one time, they were one of America's biggest retail chains, but now, under massive debt and staggering losses, Sears has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The name is more than a century old, and it all started as a mail order catalog back in the 1880s. Now, Sears joins the growing list of retailers who have filed for bankruptcy over the last few years — places like K-Mart, Toys R Us, and Payless Shoes.

The bankruptcy could effect tens of thousands of workers, as Sears expects to close some 142 unprofitable stores by the end of the year. As far as the local Sears stores in the area are concerned, there's been no indication at this time that the Sears in the Danbury Fair Mall would close. In fact, no Sears stores in Connecticut are on the short list yet, however, three local New York store's in Mahopac on Route 6, Yorktown Heights in Westchester County and the one in Nanuet in Rockland County are slated to close. It has also been reported that some stores would not be on the closing list just yet and will remain open until after the holiday season.

As an indication that the retail giant was in trouble, Sears' stock has fallen from about $6.00 over the past year to below the minimum $1.00 level that Nasdaq stocks are required to trade in order to remain on the stock index. In contrast, back in April 2007, Sears shares were trading at around $141.

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