After surviving bankruptcy, Sears is opening smaller stores


FILE — An exterior photograph of a Sears store in Vernon Hills, Illinois.

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Sears, which narrowly survived bankruptcy earlier this year, is opening stores that will be much smaller than its regular outlets.

The company announced Thursday the new stores are called Sears Home & Life and will be about 10,000 to 15,000 square feet, rather than the 160,000 square feet of a typical store. They won’t sell apparel and instead will focus on home goods like appliances and mattresses.

Three stores will open at the end of May in Anchorage, Alaska, Overland Park, Kansas, and Lafayette, Louisiana. The company didn’t disclose how many more it plans to open beyond those three.

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

Sears emerged from bankruptcy in February and this is its first big attempt to revitalize the 133-year-old brand. A bankruptcy court approved the sale of most of the retailer’s assets to a hedge fund controlled by Eddie Lampert, the company’s chairman, for $5.2 billion. The decision kept open 425 stores open and saved the jobs of about 45,000 employees.

The company had said it would focus on opening smaller stores in its bankruptcy filings.

Sears is following a trend for retailers, which are slimming down their footprints. Retailers believe the smaller stores can attract new shoppers, save money and keep them competitive amid the growth of online shopping and the dominance of Amazon.

Target opened 30 small stores, which are roughly one-third of a regular store, in various cities including Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC.

Swedish retailer Ikea announced it will open the first US location of its smaller store format in Manhattan. The company already operates the smaller stores in some European cities.

Kohl’s has been among the most aggressive in slimming down its stores and it has decided to lease out the extra space at a handful of locations to outside partners. The retailer announced in March it would lease out space to Planet Fitness next to 10 of its stores later this year.

In addition to its smaller stores, Sears will put more emphasis on its “Shop Your Way” customer loyalty program and raise at least $650 million from real estate sales in the next three years.

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