Sears Hometown Stores not impacted by bankruptcy

Charlie Rice has owned and operated the Sears Hometown Store in Cleveland for the last 11 years.

It’s still business as usual for the Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores despite news Monday that Sears Holding Corporation had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc., which operates 750 retail stores in 49 states, is a separate, publicly owned corporation and not connected to the bankruptcy.

Charlie Rice, who has owned the Sears Hometown Store in Cleveland for 11 years, says that the Sears Hometown Stores have only been tangentially related to Sears Holdings since 2012. News of the bankruptcy came as no surprise to Rice.

“It has been coming for about the last five years. We just didn’t know when it was going to happen. Rumors started circulating last week when Sears Holdings hired some bankruptcy consultant,” Rice said. “It’s not going to impact us from a business perspective. From a services perspective, we might have a hiccup or two, but nothing that can’t be worked out.”

He suspects that warranty service could eventually be impacted but not in the short-term.

“As for the A&E Service, which does warranty work and repairs, Sears Holdings has until Dec. 15 to take bids for that service,” Rice said. “Warranty service will continue to operate as it has until then. At some point in the future, if they sell that part of their business, something might change, but I doubt it.”

When asked if the Sears bankruptcy could impact his ability to get Whirlpool appliances and Craftsman tools, Rice said the Hometown Stores entered a contract with Whirlpool when Sears Holdings ended its 100-deal with Whirlpool.

“We were the only ones to continue to deal with Whirlpool,” he said.

As for the popular tool line of Craftsman, that portion of Sears’ company sold last year to Stanley Tools and Black and Decker, according to Rice. He says he will continue working with the manufacturers to provide Craftsman tools for his customers.

Liberty County is home to two Sears Hometown Stores. The one in Cleveland owned by Rice is located at 638 E. Houston St., in the Croley Center. The Liberty store is owned by Randy Statum and is located at 2339 N. Main St.

Over the last few years, the Cleveland store has been named a Premiere Store for three out of four quarters of the year for its high ratings in customer satisfaction and reviews. The benefit to customers means they get an additional promotion once a quarter to take advantage of savings and sales.

“This year we are going to make it all four quarters. We are pretty proud of that,” Rice said.

The Hometown Stores are still open for business as usual, so customers need not worry, he said.

“I actually am glad we’ve gotten to this point. We’ve been fighting that negative wind about Sears filing for bankruptcy for about five years now. Now they will either reorganize and stay in business, or close, but either way, we will be able to move beyond this,” Rice said.

Statum was not available for interview at the time this article was posted.

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

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