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Biz Buzz: Amid Sears bankruptcy, some local stores will remain open

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Sears Hometown Store at 664 N 2nd E in Rexburg | Google maps, April 2018

Do you want to know what’s happening on the east Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered.

Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.

BIZ BRIEF

Sears is going bankrupt, but some local stores are here to stay

Sign in front of Sears Hometown Store in Rexburg | Google maps, April 2018

IDAHO FALLS – After reports of Sears Holdings Corporation going bankrupt and last week’s announcement of 80 more stores closing nationwide, the manager of Sears Hometown Store in Rexburg says his store is going strong and will remain open.

RELATED | Struggling Sears to close 80 more stores as it awaits bids to stay in business

“We’re here and we’re not going anywhere,” Rexburg store manager Ron Hunter tells EastIdahoNews.com.

Hunter says sales of all the major appliances are going well and he is planning for that to continue. He’s also looking to expand this summer by offering lawnmower and snowblower repair services.

A second store in Pocatello will remain open as well.

Sears Hometown Store is a locally-owned franchise operated by Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. and is separate from Sears Holdings Corporation. That’s why these smaller stores are not impacted by the bankruptcy proceedings.

“It remains business as usual at all of our locations, which include more than 700 retail stores across the nation,” according to a company statement.

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. separated from Sears Holdings in 2012.

Rexburg

Ken Hutchins of Missouri recently purchased the Rexburg location. Ron Hunter and his wife, Becky, are running the store full-time. Hunter says he and his wife are planning to eventually purchase the store from Hutchins. Nyle and Sherri Fullmer were the previous owners of the Rexburg store for many years. They opened Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in October after closing the sale with Hutchins.

RELATED | Store offering more than 1,500 types of treats opens in east Idaho

Sears Hometown Store is at 664 N. 2nd East in Rexburg near Deseret Industries and not far from where the old Walmart once stood before its expansion north of town. Hours of operation are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Pocatello

Tim England, the owner of the Pocatello store, says they are struggling to keep their doors open after a disappointing fourth quarter in 2018.

“It’s been rough, but we’re trying to restructure and stay open for Pocatello. But (ultimately) it’s up to (the customers) whether we remain open or not,” England says.

The biggest challenge in Pocatello, according to England, is lack of awareness.

“It’s amazing how many people come in to the store and say ‘We had no idea you were here,'” says England. “But our prices the last little while have been pretty competitive and we can get more product than anybody else.”

Unlike the Rexburg store, England says they don’t have any plans to start a repair service due to lack of space and expertise. But England says he is optimistic about the future.

“Once people realize the lack of service the internet provides, they’ll turn back to the small, locally-owned and operated shops,” England says. “I think 2019 could be very good, especially with the growth the area is going to have in the next two years.”

The hometown store in Pocatello opened the week of Black Friday in Nov. 2016. It is located at 2215 Garrett Way. Hours of operation are the same as Rexburg, but Sunday hours are 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sears Hometown Store in Pocatello | Tim England

Idaho Falls

A third location in Idaho Falls is owned by Sears Holdings and will be one of 80 stores closing in March.

RELATED | Sears, the store that changed America, declares bankruptcy

“Liquidation sales at these stores are expected to begin in two weeks,” a company news release says. “The accompanying Sears Auto Center at these Sears stores will also be closing. This is in addition to the previously announced closure of 40 unprofitable stores expected to be completed in February 2019.”

The Idaho Falls store is located inside the Grand Teton Mall at 2300 E. 17th. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

One last push for Sears

CNN reports Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert is making one last push to keep the bankrupt retailer open for business. Lampert is considering purchasing $4.4 billion for many of Sears’ assets, including 425 stores. This plan would reportedly keep those stores in operation and retain about 50,000 of the company’s 68,000 employees.

It will be determined Friday whether this plan will be accepted. An alternative plan is in place in case the first one falls through.

“The alternative plan is much smaller and contingent upon at least 250 Sears stores remaining open,” Business Insider reports. “If both proposals are rejected, the company could be sold off in pieces to liquidators or other investors.”

Sears is known for its sale of large appliances and craftsman tools and was once the nation’s largest retailer and employer.

Formed in 1886 by railroad station agent Richard Sears, the company started as a watch business in North Redwood, Minnesota. The first Sears Roebuck catalog was printed ten years later. Sears and Kmart merged to form Sears Holdings in 2005. At the time, they had 3,500 U.S. stores between them.

BIZ BUGS

FREE TRIALS

Stock image

The following is a news release from the Better Business Bureau.

With the beginning of a new year, many of us are ready to boost our health and try new things but could this goal turn your new year positivity to gloom? You’ve seen them on the internet: ads or links leading to pictures of celebrities and products that sound intriguing. The ads claim these “miracle” products will help you lose weight easily, combat wrinkles or whiten teeth. Often, fraudulent operations involved with these types of ads employ the latest internet marketing techniques and professional looking websites.

You may be enticed to try these products through a “risk-free” trial, but there may be a risk the product doesn’t work as claimed.

Better Business Bureau’s (BBB’s) in-depth investigative study found that many of these free trial offers are not free. They do not just send free product samples to try. If you can locate and read the fine print on the order page, or the terms and conditions buried by a link, you’ll discover that you may have only 14 days to receive, evaluate and return the product to avoid being charged $100 or more. In addition, the same hidden information may state that by accepting the offer, you’ve also signed up for monthly shipments of the products. Those also will be charged to your credit card and become subscription traps.

The study found that many of the celebrity endorsements are fake. Sometimes the fine print even admits these endorsements are not real.

BBB receives complaints from free trial offer victims nearly every day and warns consumers to use extreme caution before agreeing to the offer and entering their credit card information.

Losses in cases of this type pursued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the last ten years total more than $1.3 billion. Fraudsters have created a global multi-billion dollar industry.

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If you have a Biz Buzz item you want to share, send it to rett.nelson@eastidahonews.com. Remember to use “Biz Buzz” in the subject line. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the free Biz Buzz email newsletter.

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