Sinking retailer Sears believes it has found the formula to keep the business open and possibly head towards a full-blown turnaround. The strategy rests on a brand new, reimagined store design that the company debuted Thursday in a suburban Chicago neighborhood.
Located in Oak Brook, Illinois, the new store was designed specifically for customers in that area and the surrounding communities, Sears Chief Brand Officer Peter Boutros explained in an interview with the Chicago Business Journal. “We are carrying an assortment of merchandise that we believe will appeal to these customers based on our knowledge of the market,” he said.
The redesigned Oak Brook store, which is one of nine Sears locations that remain open in the Chicago area, will carry a wide variety of products that range from shoes and apparel, to mattresses, to sporting goods, smart home technology, lawn and garden items, and more. Additionally, Boutros said there would be a selection of Sears’ key “power brands” available, including Kenmore appliances, DieHard batteries, and Craftsman tools.
All of those products will be displayed in a store that occupies some 62,000 square feet of retail space, or roughly one-fourth the size of the 250,000-square-foot, three-story Sears store that previously occupied the Oakbrook Center shopping mall. Boutros called the decreased retail square footage a right-sizing of the store—an explanation that follows the company’s messaging on the more than 1,000 store closings over the past five years.
From a design perspective, the new Oak Brook location is said to be contemporary, with a layout that is meant to make it as easy as possible for the customer to navigate the store.
“You will be able to see every corner of the store when you enter,” Boutros said.
Additionally, there will be a dedicated Welcome Center, where “Shop Your Way” loyalty program members will be greeted, and where interested members can sign up for the program. A lounge area was also incorporated into the Welcome Center, where “a wife could have coffee there while her husband is off looking at gardening equipment,” Boutros suggested.
The concept that Boutros seemed to hang Sears’ hat on with the newly-designed location is its attention to the interests of the local community. He emphasized in his interview with the Chicago Business Journal that the store was envisioned specifically for the Oak Brook market, but did stop short of saying that the concept would be introduced in other markets around the country.
The introduction comes at a time when Sears’ stock price has dipped below $1 for the first time in the company’s history. Despite whatever reception that the new store concept receives, it may be too little too late for Sears. And, as we’ve discussed here on this site, while the stores themselves have certainly contributed to the financial problems the company is facing, they’re far from the only problem.