Sears franchise to open at mall in Aug.

Store to sell mostly appliances, electronics

Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2001

Sears, Roebuck and Co. will return to Juneau in August with a new franchise store in the Mendenhall Center.

The 6,000-square-foot store will open in the mall near Good Humor Balloons and Electronic Adventures. Bill Gissel, former co-owner of Adventure Sports, will hold the franchise, which will sell mostly appliances and electronics.

"I have been working with Sears for over a year," Gissel said Wednesday. The limited merchandise combination is called "a dealer store," he said. "It will be super appliances and electronics without the lawn and garden option, which may be added later."

Sears had a Juneau catalog store that closed in 1993 as the company restructured. Sears has been exploring expansion back into Southeast Alaska for several years and a dealership opened in Ketchikan in March 2000.

Reinhold Fluck, owner of the company that owns the Mendenhall Center, said the Sears store should help bring business into the shopping center.

"I am delighted the store is opening, because so many people commented unfavorably when (former tenant) J.C. Penney closed. I am delighted for now and the future," Fluck said.

The new store's grand opening date depends on when merchandise is delivered, Fluck said.

Sears will pay the freight for inventory and do all the advertising; Gissel's responsibility is the mall lease and staff. Gissel said he did not know how many employees the new Sears would hire.

Gissel lived in Juneau in the late 1970s and returned in 1987. He is employed by the Environmental Protection Agency as an environmental specialist.

He began his prior business, Adventure Sports, with his wife Lynn Mayer in Wasilla in the mid-1980s. They later moved the store to Juneau, where it operated for about 15 years, closing in January.

Sears Roebuck and Co. began in 1893 as a mail-order company that offered an alternative to high-priced rural stores. Over the years it sold a wide variety of items from farmer's overalls to kits for complete homes. Its full-service store in Anchorage sells merchandise from tires to toys, easy chairs and clothing.

Responding to changing marketing trends, Sears has closed many of its large stores and has more than 800 dealer stores across the United States.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.



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