The president of Kingsmill’s Department Store announced Thursday he has put the 148-year-old downtown London icon up for sale.

Tim Kingsmill has been the store president since 2003, following four generations of family before him. But after 35 years in the retail business, Kingsmill is now planning his retirement.

“This was a tremendously difficult decision to reach, and it is with mixed emotions that I make this announcement,” he said in a release. “This type of transition must be carefully planned. Downtown London is thriving and Kingsmill’s has a dynamic location in the midst of that excitement.”

He says the store continues to be successful, but the marketplace is changing and it’s the right time to begin planning this next step.

Kingsmill’s was founded in 1865 as a dry goods store and has been operating at the Dundas Street location the entire time. It occupies more than 73,000 square feet over five floors.

But the next generation of the Kingsmill family is not yet in her 20s, so a new banner is likely to fly over the entrance.

The store’s 60 employees will continue normal operations and business hours as Kingsmill plans for his future.

 “There is still work to be done,” said Kingsmill. “I am looking forward to continuing to run the store and work with our staff as I take the time to consider all available options over the coming months.”

He adds that the family does have some retailers in mind who could take over the store, but says a sale is a sale, “There are other options we could explore, as I say, this is prime piece of real estate, isn’t it?”

Kingsmill says he’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife and daughter in his retirement.

Sale a concern for other downtown retailers

Neighbouring businesses that have long enjoyed the additional foot traffic Kingsmill’s draws to the area are feeling the impact of the planned sale.

Chris McInnis of Uber Cool Stuff says “Kingsmill’s have been great neighbours. The owners have been fantastic, the staff's fantastice. And it’s such a landmark. It’s a great benefit to be next door to them.”

Most everyone on the block is a newcomer compared to Kingsmill’s, including To Wheels, the store next door that has been selling bikes for 43 years.

Manager Robert Sturdy says “Hopefully somebody will take up the mantle of Kingsmill’s. They have been here a long time and have a huge customer base so it’s a pretty powerful draw for downtown.”

The sale of Kingsmill’s will leave Nash Jewelers as the downtown’s oldest family-run store. It is celebrating its 95th anniversary.

Janette MacDonald, executive director of Downtown London, says Kingsmill’s is nothing short of a landmark.

“I am hoping it’s just a bump in the road. I am really hoping that the brand and the store itsefl is attractive enough for a qualified person to keep it the way it is.”

But, she adds that a sale could inject new life and ideas.

After 148 years that involved overcoming fires, economic downturns and a changing clienetele, MacDonald is optimistic it can survive a ‘For Sale’ sign.

She also believes the news is a learning opportunity for other family-owned businesses, and is considering bring in a business succession specialist to offer advice and information.