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Sears Hometown continues Whirlpool sales, more |

Sears Hometown continues Whirlpool sales, more

As national headlines have announced, Sears Holding Corp. – which includes Kmart and Sears department stores — has ended sales of Whirlpool brands, including Maytag and KitchenAid.


As national headlines have announced, Sears Holding Corp. – which includes Kmart and Sears department stores — has ended sales of Whirlpool brands, including Maytag and KitchenAid.

But fans of those products can find them in Oak Ridge and still under a “Sears” sign — Sears Hometown at 142 Fairbanks Road.

The store’s proprietor, Oak Ridge native Leslie Agron, described Sears Hometown stores as “a couple of generations removed descendants of the (Sears) catalog stores.”

The Sears Hometown Oak Ridge store features 12 brands of appliances, which Agron described as “the best selection in East Tennessee.” The store also carries mattresses, lawnmowers, kayaks, hardware and other products.

“The physical smallness is a bit misleading,” Agron said regarding the store’s small footprint. He explained the store can order many products for pickup.

Agron said Sears Hometown, a part of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores is not the same company as Sears Holding Corp. and has not been for five and a half years. He said Sears Hometown still contracts with SHC for various services, but that is diminishing. Yet another connection is the store’s ability to order for pickup many – although not all – products on Sears.com, an SHC-owned entity, although Sears Hometown has its own website, http://www.searshometownstores.com/. The website lists Sears Hometown locations in 47 states.

The Oak Ridge store’s specific webpage is www.searshometownstores.com/home/tn/oak-ridge/2831.

The authorized Sears Hometown dealer in Oak Ridge will have been in operation for one year on Dec. 8.

“It’s an exciting field to work in. Retail is always fast paced,” Agron said, describing retail work as “a combination of exhilarating and scary.”

Sears, Sears Hometown

When comparing Sears Hometown to competitors in Oak Ridge, Agron expressed pride in Sears Hometown’s history as part of Sears Holding Corp., even if the two are now separate entities.

“We’re a higher service corporation with an ethos for square dealing, which goes back to the very beginning of Sears,” he said.

“We think they are going to be an entity in the retail area for quite some time,” he said, regarding Sears Holding Corp.-related stores. However, he acknowledged that many Sears locations have closed.

“We (Sears Hometown) have been expanding, while full-on (Sears) stores have been contracting,” Agron said. He said Sears department stores are “learning” from Sears Hometown Stores about the model of smaller, easier-to-maintain physical stores and will likely begin shrinking the amount of space its stores occupy and renting out some space to other retailers. However, he said the department stores will likely remain larger than his Sears Hometown store.

He said while the two companies are separate, because they share the “Sears” name, news about one affects both.

“Bad PR is bad PR,” he said.

“But the upside is as they downsize, it makes more opportunities for us, as here in Oak Ridge,” Agron said.

Other businesses

The former Oak Ridge Mall had a Sears store, but it closed in 2012, years before the Sears Hometown Store opened in 2016.

The former mall site is now the home of the Main Street Oak Ridge development.

Agron, whose store is about two miles from that development, said Main Street Oak Ridge will be good for Oak Ridge business, including his store. He said with more shopping available in Oak Ridge more people will stay in the city to shop rather than going to other areas.

Agron said he doesn’t want to move closer to the city’s center; he’s satisfied with the recently built retail building that houses his store.

“For this particular business, this is the right spot,” he said.

In general, he said, Sears Hometown Store is competitive in terms of price and selection in various categories.

Online shopping

While Sears Hometown does have a website, Agron encourages people to come in to his physical store due to various factors including promotions and price matching on some products. He also said people who come to the physical store can get additional information on alternatives in terms of delivery strategy, as well as information on alternate products which may be cheaper or more suited to the individual customer’s needs. He also said Sears Hometown personnel can give information on why certain products vary in price, including whether a product might be likely to be discontinued.

Oak Ridge

“Oak Ridge is a very unique place,” Agron said, adding that the Hometown format fits the city well.

While he said Sears Hometown decided the inventory and layout at dealer stores, this Oak Ridge native has his influence.

“I understand the culture and know how to integrate the national inventory to the local needs and interests,” Agron said.

Call Ben Pounds at (865) 220-5502 and follow him on Twitter @Bpoundsjournal.

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