Sears is opening stores again. The department store chain that has closed hundreds of Sears and Kmart locations over the past few years announced this week that it will open three “Sears Home & Life” stores in May. The stores will be located in Anchorage, AK; Lafayette, LA; and Overland Park, KS. The new stores will offer appliances, mattresses, home services and connected home products relevant to members and compatible with Alexa and Google+. The stores were developed based on insights from Sears Appliances & Mattresses stores that opened in 2017 in Ft. Collins, CO; Pharr, TX; Honolulu, HI; and Camp Hill, PA. The store sizes will range in size from 10,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet. Currently, the average Sears store is larger than 100,000 square feet.
The Home & Life stores will also feature several retail services such as a Welcome Service Desk, where shoppers can meet with Home & Life experts to discuss how appliances would look in their homes; a buy online, in-store "search bar" kiosk, giving customers access to all of Sears products and services; free in-store pickup on any item purchased on sears.com; the ability to return merchandise purchased on sears.com; in-vehicle pickup; and access to Sears Home Services, which will offer appliance repair, parts and accessories.
Total Retail's Take: No, it's not the 1970s. Sears is actually opening stores, in 2019. The company, which got another shot at life after emerging from bankruptcy earlier this year, clearly still sees a chance to be a shopping destination for hard-line goods like appliances, tools and mattresses in a smaller-store format. "The exciting new Sears Home & Life stores will carry power categories where Sears has a real strength: appliances, mattresses and our home services business," said Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart, as well as president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands. "We're 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." The ultimate litmus test will be if Sears expands its Home & Life store concept beyond these three test markets.