Sears Is Liquidating and Closing All Remaining Hometown Stores
THE TROUBLED COMPANY IS TAKING AN AXE TO ANOTHER ONE OF ITS CHAINS.
The long-promised demise of Sears has been slowly playing out for years now, and it shows no signs of stopping. Currently, the namesake chain has just about a dozen stores left in the entire country, but that's not the only brand that's struggling. Sears Hometown Stores Inc., a franchise-owned chain also under the Sears umbrella, is now gearing up to close its last remaining locations across the U.S. Read on to find out about the plans to liquidate and shut down 115 Sears Hometown stores.
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Sears Hometown already closed around 100 stores earlier this year.
Sears Hometown had already been doing some serious downsizing. Back in May, it was revealed that roughly 100 locations would permanently close in the following weeks, CNN reported. According to the news outlet, the summer closures were announced on each individual store's Facebook page, and the shuttering locations were spread across 30 different states.
"Unfortunately we must announce the closing of our Sears Hometown Store. It is not a decision that we have made lightly. We have loved all of our time that we have been able to spend with you over these last 10 years," read a Facebook post from the Luling, Louisiana location, which was closed in June.
Sears Hometown had 750 stores left in the U.S. as of 2019. But CNN reported that the last set of closures represented "roughly half" of the chain's remaining retail footprint. Now, the other half has found itself on the chopping block.
The chain just filed for bankruptcy.
Sears Hometown operates as a branch of the popular department store, with a focus on selling appliances and tools, as well as hardware, lawn, and garden equipment. According to Bloomberg, Sears spun off its Hometown business in 2012 as an effort to raise revenue for its struggling parent company. That didn't pan out as planned, with Sears Hometown Stores Inc. filing for bankruptcy on Dec. 12, the outlet reported.
Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, told clients in a note on Dec. 13 that at one point, Sears Hometown had a better chance of survival than Sears proper, because the smaller chain's size was "more optimal than the huge department stores," per CNN.
"Instead, it has followed the similar pattern of continual decline that has been the hallmark of Sears, with hundreds of stores closing earlier this year," Saunders continued. "The benefits of having access to unique merchandise via exclusive products has also been lost as the various brands Sears once owned have been sold off and are now distributed more widely across retail."
Sears Hometown's bankruptcy filing lists assets of less than $50 million and liabilities of at least $50 million, according to CNN.
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Now, the remaining Sears Hometown stores are closing.
In a Dec. 23 press release, it was announced that liquidation sales are underway at 115 Sears Hometown stores.
The closures are spread across 36 states and Puerto Rico, but some areas will be more affected than others. Arkansas is set to lose the most locations, as 12 Hometown Sears stores in the state are already holding closing sales. Texas and California are also high on the list, with eight and six locations being liquidated in each state, respectively.
"This truly is an extraordinary buying opportunity for communities across America," Arnold L. Jacobs, executive managing director of Tiger Capital Group, one of the partners overseeing the liquidations sales, said in a statement. "These 8,000 to 10,000 square-foot stores are filled with in-demand tools and home appliances … Compared to the original price, the discounts are as high as 40 percent. That can go even higher in the case of floor models and scratch-and-dent items."
The chain is going out of business completely.
Despite 130 locations still listed on Sears Hometown's store locator, the 115 locations set to close appear to be what's left of the chain's retail footprint. A large banner on the homepage of the company's website reads, "All Sears Hometown Stores from coast-to-coast will be shutting their doors!"
This has been confirmed by individual locations as well. "With great sadness, we are announcing that we got the call from corporate that our store will be closing along with all the other Hometown Stores across the country," the Sears Hometown store in South Williamson, Kentucky, posted in a Dec. 19 Facebook update.
Mark Minuti, an attorney for Sears Hometown, shared similar sentiments during the company's first bankruptcy hearing. "What is happening here is this company is going out of business," Minuti said, per Bloomberg. "Make no mistake about it: This is a sad day for our company."
Best Life reached out to Sears for more information on the mass Sears Hometown closures, but has not yet heard back.