Wednesday, July 15, 2015

East Norriton Sears Outlet moves to DeKalb Pike

By Gary Puleo, The Times Herald

Sears Outlet to the left, Sears Hardware to the right.

It’s all Sears to us when we come through the doors of the building emblazoned with the familiar 129-year-old name out front.

However, the two stores are actually separate entities, explained Mike Topping, manager of Sears Outlet, which recently moved across the road from Northtowne Plaza Shopping Center to share a remodeled space at 2811 DeKalb Pike, East Norriton, with longtime occupant Sears Hardware store.

“We moved in here from across the street and squeezed in beside them, so they moved around a lot of their product and this now gives the customer some great options,” Topping said. “We have a great relationship with them but we have to view ourselves as competitors.”

While the hardware side sells new appliances only, at Sears Outlet you’ll find all sorts of roads to take toward purchasing that new-to-you refrigerator, washer or dryer — from fresh-out-of-the-carton, sparkling new to reconditioned/recertified, discontinued and yes, scratch-and-dent merchandise.

“We have a little bit of everything,” Topping said, adding that some appliances that are marked “returned, tested” may have needed repairs or simply been returned by a customer for other reasons.

“We are a recertification center. There are times when brand new products fail. A new refrigerator may have a leaking compressor, which needs to be resealed or replaced. Anything that’s not taken out of the box by us can’t be called ‘new,’ but it will be repaired and tested. We also explain to people that a product could have been at somebody’s house for 30 days, and they didn’t like it. Sears takes it back and that becomes a ‘returned, tested’ and recertified item.”

The merchandise is much the same at the new address as it was when Sears Outlet opened in the old Kmart across the street in 2011.

More than 1,000 Sears subsidiaries and franchises across the country have been spun off from Sears Holdings Corp. to increase the profitability of the iconic but troubled brand, with both Sears Outlet and the Hardware segment trading under the Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. (SHO) company, based in Illinois.

“We’ve been Sears Outlet for a long time and actually, Sears Outlet is the fastest growing aspect of Sears,” noted Topping, who allowed that relocating the Sears Outlet store was the only plausible action to take.

“When we first moved into the Northtowne Plaza store we were also an apparel processing center, bringing in tons of apparel and redistributing it to Sears Outlets. I think they decided that business plan wasn’t working out for them and we stopped using about a third of the building. We decided that since SHO owns the building over here there was no sense paying all that rent for space we weren’t using. This is a newer building and in much better shape.”

Appliances from all the name brands like Kenmore and Whirlpool are the real headliners at the Sears Outlet store and at, but you’ll also find furniture, mattresses, tools, sporting goods and sundry items here and there.

“The savings on our side of the building are kind of ridiculous … we have 50 percent off refrigerators right now. Other places will have sales for a couple of days, but day in and day out nobody will touch us on prices, which are generally 30 to 55 percent off,” Topping said.

And sometimes the discounts go even deeper than that.

If an item sits around for a month, the price drops. If there are no takers after another month has passed, the price comes down yet again, Topping explained.

“It’s a liquidation process, so in the course of eight months that price will go down to dirt cheap. It may be 80 or 90 percent off if we need to get it out of here. If it’s been here for eight months,” he added, “you may wonder what’s wrong with it, but the price gets down so low you just get right past that and recognize a good deal.”

Sears Outlet is open Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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