A new kind of Sears


Pat Peckham

Sears Hometown focuses on hardware only.

Almost exactly five years after Sears closed its store in the Wausau Center mall, Sears Hometown is popping up at 2215 Grand Ave., next to Family Dollar and Firestone. 

Don’t go there for a pair of socks. Sears Hometown has a narrower focus; hard goods only, so no clothing items but plenty of tools, appliances, mattresses, lawn mowers and already in, the first of the snowblowers. Merchandise was still arriving last week as they worked to get the most out of their 9,000 square feet of floor space. 

Glancing around the showroom, a shopper will see mowers, grills, snowblowers, appliances, water heaters, lawn care equipment, tools for the mechanic and home fixer-upper, vacuums, air compressors and mattresses.

District Manager Lamarcus Banks says it was kind of a fluke that this store landed where it did. With Darlene Morris in charge as store manager, it used to be in Antigo. They were doing OK, but when the owners of the shopping center where they were located announced an upcoming expansion, they knew they’d be looking at a disruption. If they had to move, they decided to locate where the customer base is accustomed to having a Sears store in the community. 

Banks says they are, “very happy to be in the community“ and they aim to provide customers with personal service. “You won’t have to go find somebody in our store.” Customers will find it convenient, he says.

He expects that lots of their sales will be to people who years earlier bought a Sears product and have worn it out, but they liked it enough to want another just like it. He says follow-up service, when needed, is among the best in the business. 

Appliance shoppers, unless they have an emergency need, will come into the store and pick out something like a kitchen range and have that model shipped directly to them from a regional warehouse.  An appliance can be shipped to the store for pick-up or can be be shipped to the customer’s home where it’s brought in and set up. 

Customers who order online and have the item shipped to the store can usually save shipping charges.  The web address for that to happen is searshometownstores.com.

They plan a grand opening weekend Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23 and 24, offering a live radio remote and additional discounts. Store hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. 

The Sears Hometown in Wausau uses some of the company’s standard signage saying “locally owned and operated,” but Banks says this one is company-owned.  It is available for purchase, he says, and is advertised on the store’s Facebook page.  Three-quarters of the approximately 400 Sears Hometown stores across the country are locally owned. 

Banks says Sears Hometown is “a somewhat separate entity from the larger Sears,” and is aimed at metro areas that probably never could have supported a regular Sears store. In recent years, actually, fewer and fewer metro areas are able to support either a Sears store or its sister in retail, Kmart. 

Together in 2018, Sears and Kmart, each of which had on its own held the title of largest retailer in America, had more than 1,000 stores. At the beginning of 2021, they had about 100 and although the parent company no longer announces its total store count, a major U.S. daily newspaper put the total at 36 stores in August.