Sears Mini-Stores to Sell Appliances, Mattresses

April 4, 2019

By Kimberly Janeway | Consumer Reports

While Amazon seems to always be expanding, Sears continues to shrink—and not just in terms of shuttered stores.

The retailer announced Thursday that it is opening several scaled-down stores, called Sears Home & Life, that sell mostly major appliances and mattresses. 

“This is part of our new era and we’re focusing on our strongest categories—appliances, mattresses, and Sears Home Services,” says Larry Costello, director of public relations for the retailer. 

Sears survived another brush with liquidation in February after closing hundreds of stores—currently there are 223—and is now opening three Sears Home & Life stores.

These smaller stores are 10,000 to 15,000 square feet (an average Sears store covers 155,000 square feet) and will open their doors in late May in Anchorage, Alaska; Overland Park, Kan.; and Lafayette, La.

More stores may open down the line, says Costello.

What won’t you find at these new locations? Clothes, jewelry, bath towels, and the like—the softer side of Sears—at the Home & Life stores.

Expect to find primarily kitchen and laundry appliances, including Kenmore, Sears’ house brand, and other leading brands. 

Sears, for all its struggles, is the fourth-largest retailer of major appliances, behind Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Best Buy. 

These semi-Sears will also sell small kitchen appliances and vacuums, and mattresses from long-familiar brands that include Tempur-Pedic, Beautyrest, Sealy, Simmons, and Stearns & Foster.

Sears Home Services, which does millions of appliance repairs across brands each year, will also set up shop in these stores, where you can buy appliance parts and schedule repairs. 

“It’s an interesting move, but a move of desperation,” says Burt Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, retail consultants. “Sears has a well deserved reputation of servicing appliances, but they’ve lost a lot of confidence with consumers and vendors.” 

He adds that their appliance prices aren’t competitive of late and questions whether these smaller stores can save Sears.

“The people who wrecked Sears can’t be seen as the saviors,” says Flickinger.  

But Sears hasn’t given up.

“This is part of our strategy to maintain a presence in markets where we have right-sized our footprint,” says Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart. “Sears Home & Life supports our strategic plan to become a stronger, more profitable business and these stores will enable us to learn and improve as we move forward.” 

Sears hasn’t given up on online sales, either. Amazon sells Kenmore appliances, too.