UPDATE: April 4, 2018: Sears confirmed the new Home & Life stores, and Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart and president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands, said they will sell items from Sears' "power categories," with merchandise determined by local needs. Customers can also order from Sears' wider assortment online for delivery or in-vehicle pickup at the stores. "We are 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," he told Retail Dive in an email statement. "Sears Home & Life supports our strategic plan to become a stronger, more profitable business and these test stores will enable us to learn and improve as we move forward."
Sears is opening three 10,000-15,000-square-foot "Sears Home & Life" stores, selling appliances, tools, mattresses and lawn equipment, in Anchorage, Alaska; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Overland Park, Kansas, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sears didn't immediately return Retail Dive's request for comment.
The retailer in recent years has previously opened such stores in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania; Honolulu; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Pharr, Texas.
The retailer, better known in recent years for shuttering stores, has typically run locations of some 150,000 square feet, and its closures threaten many of the malls it once anchored.
The decline of Sears has gone down much the way you'd expect when a giant teeters and falls, but the company appears to be getting back up — or at least small pieces of it are.
Few expect much of a transformation or rebirth, in light of the fact that its former leader, Eddie Lampert, is also its current one. But there are some signs of life. Aside from opening a few small formats, the retailer is banking on its sub-brands, with a new line of tools from its iconic Craftsman label (now owned by another company) and new features for its Kenmore appliances.
That brand on Thursday announced that more of its smart appliances will be integrated with Amazon Dash Replenishment. That could be a boon to fans of Amazon's Dash buttons, which have been discontinued in favor of virtual mobile, voice and appliance-based options. The brand has also integrated with Amazon Alexa.
At the moment, however, Sears' retreat from the landscape is ongoing, and several property developers and communities are grappling with the fallout. That, along with Macy's 100-store closures and the shuttering of other department store banners like Bon-Ton and others, is causing some to rethink the traditional mall layout. Simon CEO David Simon, for example, last year told analysts that "[T]he mall of the future doesn't need ... the department stores," later adding, "Maybe our industry got just too carried away with having all these big department store boxes."
Someone at Sears appears to have heard that, too.