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Eye on Retail: Sears to open three stores under new format

BY Marianne Wilson

Sears is going smaller.

The embattled department store chain announced it will open three small-sized stores, called “Sears Home & Life,” in May, with locations in Anchorage, Alaska; Layette, Louisiana; and Overland Park, Kansas. The stores will range in size from 10,000 sq. ft. to 15,000 sq. ft., with the footprint primarily driven by the needs of the local community and space availability. Artwork and photos in the stores will include images of the local community.

The move comes some two months after Sears chairman Eddie Lampert bought the bankrupt company for $5.2 billion in an action through an affiliate of his ESL Investments hedge fund.

Sears Home & Life will be dedicated to four categories: major appliances, with Kenmore and other top brands displayed in kitchen and laundry vignettes; small kitchen appliances, including vacuums, floor care and home environment products; mattresses; and connected home products, with consumers also be able to learn how to set up a smart home with appliances that are compatible with Alexa and Google+. The retailer described the merchandise assortment as reflecting its “power categories where Sears has real strength.”

The new format will also feature a Sears Home Services area that will offer appliance repair, replacement parts and accessories. Experts will be available for consultation on such home improvement needs as windows, roofing, kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring and more.

“We are here to serve these communities and this is part of our strategy to maintain a presence in markets where we have right-sized our footprint,” said Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart and president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands. “Sears Home & Life supports our strategic plan to become a stronger, more profitable business and these test stores will enable us to learn and improve as we move forward.”

Other Home & Life features include:
• A “welcome” service desk: Shoppers can meet with experts to explore how new appliances would look in a full-scale kitchen.

• A buy online “search bar” kiosk: Customers will have access to the entire Sears lineup of products and services offered through the in-store kiosk, with purchases picked up in-store or delivered to their home.

• Free store pickup (and returns) on any item purchased on sears.com:

According to Sears, the new stores were developed based on insights from the company’s Sears Appliances & Mattresses format, which debuted in 2017, in Pharr, Texas, with additional locations in Ft. Collins, Colorado; Honolulu; and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

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