Sears Closing 70+ Hometown Stores: Report

Members should brace for going-out-of-business sales

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Sears owner Eddie Lampert and his Transformco holding company are reportedly in the process of shutting an additional 70-plus Hometown Stores.

According to a report in Axios, more than 23 percent of the small-format chain’s estimated 300 remaining locations have been slated for closure this season.

Independently owned and operated, Sears Hometown Stores sell appliances, tools, mattresses and lawn-and-garden equipment, and are largely located in rural towns. Despite their diminishing numbers and dearth of available inventory, the chain still claims an estimated 3.5 percent share of the appliance market.

What’s more, the targeted stores are reportedly holding disruptive going-out-of-business sales, with some merchandise priced at upwards of 60% off. BrandSource dealers are advised to prepare for some short-term pain during the fire sales, but can also realize long-term gains, as members are well-positioned to pick up Hometown’s lost market share.

A number of members, including Zeglin’s Home TV & ApplianceSoutheastern Appliances and  Cole’s Appliance & Home Furnishings, have also leveraged Hometown’s attrition to snatch up vacated storefronts and expand their own operations, while at least one new BrandSource member — Smith Appliance in Fitzgerald, Ga. — was a former Hometown operator itself.

Hometown, along with its scratch-and-dent sibling Outlet, was spun off by Sears in 2012 and later acquired in total by Lampert following Sears’s bankruptcy sale in 2019. Within a year, Hometown dealers were being starved of inventory and penalized for competing with Sears.com on price, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Under Lambert’s business model, Hometown Store owners pay for rent and upkeep and receive a commission on sales of merchandise, which is owned by Transformco, the newspaper said.

As Lampert no longer provides updates on Sears, Kmart or Hometown store closures, and the accuracy of the chain’s official store locator is uncertain, Axios based its report on a review of Facebook posts by individual Hometown storeowners announcing their pending closures. The Sears Hometown Store in Luling, La., is one of them.

“Unfortunately we must announce the closing of our Sears Hometown Store,” owner Kathy Witmer posted. “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. Our last day that we are open is June 23, 2022. Thank you for your support and onto the next chapter!”