Juneau Sears survives first round of store closings

Mendenhall Mall’s Sears Hometown Store size may protect it from corporate closings

Today Sears Holdings announced the first 80 of its store closures. Juneau’s Hometown Sears store was not on that list.

Sears Holdings Corp. announced Tuesday it would close 100 to 120 Full-line stores to reduce expenses. Sales for the corporation, made up of Sears and Kmart retail chain stores, were down by 2.6 percent year to date and a quarter to date drop of more than 5 percent.

“Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” said Chief Executive Officer Lou D’Ambrosio. 

Juneau’s Sears may be spared by its relatively small size and its place in Juneau’s economy.

D’Ambrosio’s first action was to close 100 to 120 Kmart and Sears “Full-line” stores.

“We expect these store closures to generate $140 to $170 million of cash,” D’Ambrosio said.

The Sears stores closed on Friday were Full-Line, Grand Essentials and Hardlines stores. These stores employ 40 to 80 associates and are between 115,000 and 133,000 square feet. The Sears at Mendenhall Mall is approximately 7,700 square feet.

“So far the plans are that no hometown-sized stores would close,” said Travis Well, on site manager for the Juneau Sears. Wells was also the general manager under the former owner Rena Sims.

Juneau’s Sears will have to pass another test by Sears corporate.

Sears Holdings said it will no longer invest in poor performing stores.

“... we will carefully evaluate store performance going forward and act opportunistically to recognize value from poor performing stores as circumstances allow.” 

Could this happen to Juneau’s Sears?

“No, I run a tight ship,” said Wells, who is also a tugboat captain. “We offer great customer service.”

Wells said his district manager assured him he had nothing to worry about. 

“We are staying open indefinitely,” Wells said.

The store plans to have a storewide sale on Jan 9.

Sears offers its wide range of home merchandise, apparel and automotive products and services through more than 2,700 Sears-branded and affiliated stores in the United States and Canada.

Sears Holdings has 938 Sears Hometown Stores. These are usually located in smaller communities and independently owned. Averaging 7,700 square feet, they offer appliances, consumer electronics, lawn and garden equipment and hardware. Most carry Sears brand products, such as Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard among other national brands.

Sears at Mendenhall Mall is not independently owned, it is owned by Sears Hometown Stores LLC. The store is for sale.

For a list of store closings visit www.searsmedia.com.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com

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