Howdy folks! Welcome to a Retail News update, I never thought I’d write about, a Sears reopening. Granted, as stated in the headline it is as a Hometown Store, this is still big news! For those not in the know, the Sears at Marcoplaza Mall, closed in January 2021. Leaving the Houston area without a mainline Sears presence for the first time in nearly 100 years. Sadly, I was unable to capture the closing, however Je of Southern Retail did document the store’s final days, and those photos will eventually come online. I first learned of the new Sears store through friend of the blog, Anonymous in Houston, who found some photos of the new location. Despite the chain using the slogan “Locally owned and operated” this new Sears Hometown, appears to be run by Transformco, the company headed by Eddie Lampert to purchase Sears Holdings Corp out of bankruptcy in 2018.
I ventured into Marcoplaza Mall in search of the Sears. From photos, I’d seen on the official Facebook I assumed the mall side was open, as I had only been inside the Sears once a few years ago. Venturing into the mall on a particularly dead morning, I was not the only shopper caught off guard by the photos as at least one other person checked out the former interior Sears entrance around the same time as me, although it could have just been a stray mall walker. My next step was to get back in the car, and head to the exterior entrance of the store, dodging potholes literally big enough to swallow a Volkswagen Beetle. While I didn’t have my expectations for the store set to Sears Home & Life high, I was hoping for a pleasant greeting at the other end.
While some photos of the store were online, I truly had no clue what to expect when coming here. Prior to seeing the walled off sections from the interior of the mall, I was hoping the store would be at least slightly larger than an average Hometown store. With all that extra space, I’m sure they could easily expand the product line slightly. For those unaware, Sears Hometown Stores, is what is left of the former Dealer and Outlet spin-off which occurred in 2012. The stores which were spun off by Sears to generate cash, originally growing out of franchised catalog stores, who were forced to switch to the Hometown model in 1993. These independent “Sears Dealers”, as they were known at the time, could previously sell anything available through the catalog, but were now restricted to hard lines. Mainly appliances, tools, and electronics, which Sears made good money selling in small communities. The product offering as of 2021 is not much different from what it was nearly 30 years ago. Appliances, Tools, and Mattresses. The only real change is the loss of electronics, which seems to have happened when Transformco reacquired the spun-off division in 2019.
Upon making it to the parking lot of Sears, I genuinely struggled to know if the store was open. I don’t mean as in open for the day, I mean open at all. No Sears Hometown signage was on the exterior. The landscaping was overgrown, likely going untouched since last year, and the parking lot completely empty, not even employees were parked in the customer lot. IT was a confusing perspective, especially walking up to the front door, to find the shutters down on what was the optical department, and still partially closed on the main door. Getting closer to the entrance, handwritten signs instructed you to use the door to the far left, as all others were locked (I assure you we’re open). Making it inside, however, would indeed prove this store was open and operating. Early on there were no other customers, and the staff was more than accommodating, allowing me to take these photos. It was very apparent that supply chain issues were at play with this store, although Transformco and Sears Holding have been having these same issues since 2018.
All in all, this was a fun store to visit. Supply chain issues or not, it was obvious this store was still in the soft opening, a fact supported by the employees. Lots of new blue paint had been added to the walls, and a few support columns, giving ideas as to what will remain once the store is fully open. I would be willing to bet the Optical department will be walled off. The manager also informed me that the store would be capped off on the right side, similar to the left side of the store. Some of the former Sears sales floor was being used as backroom, as seen in the photos above. The pick-up door seemed to be open and operable. I’m not sure if they were using it instead of the loading dock, or as an actual customer pickup. I do hope the best for the employees, the manager had been with Sears for nearly 20 years, the entire time on the Hometown/Dealer side of the store. All the other employees were very sweet and helpful with any questions I had. Another customer brought in an older Craftsman tool which had broken, and the manager offered to replace it, but was very limited on selection. This store proves to be somewhat of an oddity. While this location may not be long-lived, I don’t think we’ve seen the end of Sears just yet.
Great to see a Sears storefront back in business. It may not be the Sears of old, but “Conn’s with tools” seems like a store concept that could work for what is left of Sears and I wish them the best.
Always great to see a classic-style Craftsman display with tools hanging on pegboard rather than the cardboard displays they often have at Ace and, especially, Lowe’s.
These are some great photos of the Pasadena Sears Hometown Store! I’m glad you were able to make it out there so quickly after we initially discussed this place. Then again, the idea of a new Sears opening in Houston was so exciting that I suppose it was completely understandable how quickly you went out to Macroplaza Mall to see this place!
I have to give credit to Je of the Louisiana & Texas Retail Blog for mentioning in a blog comment over at his blog that a Sears Hometown Store had opened in Humble across from Deerbrook Mall. That was shocking to me! While researching that, I came across the even bigger shocker that Sears had just returned to their old location at Macroplaza Mall/Plaza Paseo/Pasadena Town Square! I’m sure everyone in the Houston retail community, and really all Sears enthusiasts nationwide, are surprised about these new Sears stores!
In addition to the new Humble and Pasadena Sears Hometown Stores, the Cypress and League City Sears Appliance Showrooms were just converted into Sears Hometown Stores and they had their grand openings around the same time as the Pasadena store. The Sugar Land Sears Appliance Showroom might be converting to the Hometown format as well, but it’s hard to say about that one right now. I’m sure Mike is keeping an eye on that location.
I’ve also seen job opening postings at the Sears Hometown Stores website for retail jobs at a Willowbrook location. I’m not sure what the story is with that one. Could Sears Hometown be coming back to the old Willowbrook Mall Sears? Maybe Sears Hometown is planning a store somewhere near Willowbrook Mall, but not in it like what they did with the Humble location? We’ll have to see, but I’m sure Mike will post any news about that here at HHR should anything happen!
As for electronics, I think Sears Hometown Stores started discontinuing that around the same time that Sears and Kmart stores really started thinning out their electronics offerings in around 2014-2015. Hopefully these Sears Hometown Stores can bring back at least some electronics at some point later on if these stores gain any traction. I’m just glad to have these Sears Hometown Stores. They may not be what the old Sears full-line stores were, but it’s nice to have any kind of Sears in town and it’s nice that the Hometown Stores sell tools and such that the old Sears Appliance Showrooms didn’t carry.
This has got to be the weirdest chapter in the ongoing saga of Fast Eddie era Sears. They really need Dante to make the I assure you we’re open sign with his shoe polish. This is an excellent look at the store and kudos to the employees for giving you access. I will check this store out in the future, thanks for making it down here before they really get this place going.
This Sears was a huge apparel store so a lot of people will be disappointed to see only hardlines in this store. The lines in the clothing departments always had customers even as the store inventory started thinning out before the closing started. It is a risky location with how the mall is failing. They are going to need to update the front of the store with new signage and repaint the building at the very least. Maybe more big box tenants are in the works for the mall to help give the new Sears a boost. A redevelopment of the Sears building like how they did at the Macy’s Mall of the Mainland would definitely bring more traffic to the mall.
Yeah, I really don’t know what Fast Eddie could be thinking at this point. My only ideas would be that either they’re thinking that a local franchisee will want to buy this from them eventually. Or, they’re using the store to move remaining merchandise, which was obvious the case to an extent (Some of those boxes of Craftsman accessories looked like they could have been older than the building!). I was fool hardy in thinking so, but in my mind’s eye I envisioned some sort of small Softline selection. It stems from that same association of this store being very much focused on softlines/fashion.