Sears Hometown Store to close

Sears Hometown Store closed, but building owner Tony Olson had future plans in the works, and now runs Northland Sales and Service in the building.

The locally owned and operated International Falls Sears Hometown Store will close as Sears’ new parent company, Transform Holdco LLC, merges with the Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores.

Tony Olson, who owns the local Sears Hometown Store, said most Hometown owners are happy it happened.

“As far as Sears Hometown Store in International Falls, we are throwing in the towel at Sears and going to be going a different way,” Olson said. “The doors will close.”

A liquidation sale will run through July 19, or until everything inside the store at 500 Third St. W. is gone.

Olson has been a Sears Hometown Store owner for 12 years, in operation at the site in downtown International Falls since 1989. With its closure, the nearest Sears store will be in Baxter, and Superior Wis., he said.

The service shop, Northland Sales and Service, will remain open, and Olson noted that items purchased with a warranty or service plan will continue to be covered by Sears Holding Corporation.

“We are still the authorized contractor for covering that warranty,” he said.

The future

The end of Sears Hometown Store in the community doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of another business, Olson said.

“I think it will be beneficial in the long run,” he said.

He encouraged the community to keep an eye on the corner where the business is located.

“I have plans for the building, that mostly likely won’t take effect until sometime in September,” he said, adding he can’t elaborate further because of contractual obligations.

“I wish I could say more, but I can’t,” he said laughing.

Meanwhile, Sears Hometown stores, which are independently owned and only stock hard lines, such as appliances and garden tools, spun off in 2012. The common ownership allows the company to move forward with its test of smaller-format stores.

Five years ago, Sears Hometown separated from Sears Holdings Corporation and became its own independent publicly traded company. The Sears Hometown locations are 10,000 to 15,000 square feet instead of the 160,000-square-foot department-store model.

“We believe that reuniting our Sears Hometown segment stores with Transform’s Sears full-line stores will result in a more consistent customer experience across Sears branded storefronts, generate higher total revenue and leverage efficiencies of scale to improve costs and margins, all of which could lead to improved profitability for Sears Hometown’s dealers and franchisees,” said Will Powell, chief executive of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, in a statement.

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