Sears store returning to Anchorage with 'right-sized' retail footprint

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Sears is returning to Anchorage, but smaller this time.

This week the retailer announced it would open three new "Sears Home & Life" stores.

The stores are smaller than what most people expect and will range in size from 10,000 to 15,000 square feet.

The stores will be located in Anchorage, Alaska; Lafayette, Louisiana, and Overland Park, Kansas, Sears said in a statement.

According to USA Today, Sears has closed more than 3,500 stores, including one in Anchorage, and cut about 250,000 jobs in roughly the last 15 years as sales cratered, leading to the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in October.

"Seeing them using Alaska to test out their new concept is a really positive statement towards the opportunity that Alaska may present for national retailers," Bill Popp, the president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, said.

Channel 2 toured the new Sears store on Dimond Blvd., across from the Dimond Center, Friday morning. The design is modern and clean. You can buy major appliances like microwaves and ovens as well as products focused on the home. There will be a grand opening the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, although the store will open a few weeks before that event.

"The exciting new Sears Home & Life stores will carry power categories where Sears has a real strength: Appliances, mattresses and our home services business," Peter Boutros, chief brand officer for Sears and Kmart and president of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands said in a statement.

"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," Boutros continued, "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."

The nationwide department store was once a flagship anchor at what was then called the Mall At Sears. The mall -- now called the Midtown Mall -- has transformed itself adding an REI, a Planet Fitness and a Guitar Center.

"Losing Sears was kind of scary," Amber Musso, the marketing director for the Midtown Mall said.

Musso says she gets several calls asking when Guitar Center will open. She says there's also a lot of excitement about Carrs.

"People loved it (Sears), people were loyal to it, but at the same time getting new things in that drive that excitement," Musso said.

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