Sears again interested in West Bend
Third attempt at opening area store

By DAVE RANK - Daily News

July 30, 2014

WEST BEND - Sears wants back into West Bend, if someone will have it.

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores Inc. plans to open a Sears Hometown Store in the city as soon as they find a local entrepreneur willing to open one.

This will be the third time Sears has tried to open a Hometown Store in West Bend since it closed a Sears Grand department store in 2010. That North 18th Avenue building became the Sendik’s West Bend Center in 2011.

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores split from Sears Holdings Corp., Hoffman Estates, Illinois, late in 2012.

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, also headquartered in Hoffman Estates, is a national retailer primarily selling home appliances, hardware, tools, and lawn and garden equipment. There are 1,250 stores in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

“We’re looking for a highly-motivated member of the West Bend community who wants to operate a successful business and is customer-service oriented,” Sears Hometown Stores Regional Development Manager Ed Sosniak said in a written announcement.

According to Sears, the Authorized Hometown Store Program is not considered a franchise program because Sears does not require an individual to purchase inventory or pay an annual licensing fee.

The new store in West Bend would be one of 20 Wisconsin locations.

A local store owner would be responsible for start-up and on-going operating expenses associated with the store, Sosniak said, which would include building or leasing a facility, providing in-store fixtures, hiring and training employees, payroll and insurance.

“As locally owned and operated locations, the stores are supported by the Sears retail network, which includes providing all inventory, advertising, point-of-sale computer systems, delivery, support and training,” Sears spokeswoman Mary Pattara said.

Sears had a store in downtown West Bend for decades before closing in the 1980s.

A locally owned Sears Authorized Dealer Store was open on South Main Street from 1999-2004. An existing Kmart store was converted into a Sears Grand in 2006 after the two retail chains merged.

Following the closing of the Sears Grand, efforts were make to find a local owner for a Sears Hometown Store in 2010 and 2011, without success.

According to the company’s announcement, Sears Hometown Stores typically occupy 8,000-10,000 square feet of space and offer a selection of major appliance brands, lawn and garden equipment, tools, fitness equipment and mattresses.

In-store kiosks, Sears Hometown Stores offer all products sold through Sears.com. Local repair service is offered as well as product protection agreements.

“We believe our program is a winner for everyone involved. The owner has a chance to build a successful business, our customers can shop closer to home and our brand reconnects with local consumers,” said William Powell, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores.

For more information, contact Ed Sosniak, Sears Hometown Stores regional development manager at (763) 442-2925.