By Kevin Kelley
Everything old is new again.
At least that will be the case at West Bay Plaza on Detroit Road, where the Sears Grand store will once again become a Kmart store.
The store is now in the midst of a clearance-style remodeling sale, with merchandise being sold at steep discounts.
Kimberly Freely, director of communications at Sears Holdings Corp., said the sales began Dec. 4. The store will close Feb. 20-21 and reopen as a Kmart Feb. 22, she said.
Sears Holdings owns both Sears and Kmart.
Freely said she did not know the number of employees who currently work at the Westlake Sears Grand. The store employed 90 workers when it opened; Sears Holdings said stores typically employ 40 to 80 workers.
“They will all be given the opportunity to reapply for the positions for the Kmart location,” Freely said.
Why is the store changing from Sears Grand to Kmart?
“Our customers said they preferred the Kmart assortment of products to the Sears Grand,” Freely explained.
The Detroit Road Sears Grand is one of eight in the country being converted to Kmart, Freely said.
Last month, Sears Holdings announced that 14 Sears Grand/Essentials stores would be closed nationwide, in addition to 25 full-line Sears stores and 39 Kmart locations. Twenty to 40 additional store closings will be announced at a later date, the company said.
The Dec. 27 announcement accompanied news that Sears and Kmart retail sales were down for both the fourth quarter and 2011. The company said it plans to better manage its inventory and introduce more targeted pricing and promotion.
The Westlake Sears Grand reopened to great fanfare in November 2006 after having closed two months earlier as a Kmart. Company officials promoted Sears Grand as a one-level store carrying the best of what Sears is known for — appliances, lawn and garden supplies, tools and sporting goods — with an innovative mix of items such as health and beauty products, greeting cards, cleaning supplies and magazines.
George Whalin, a California-based retail consultant and author, told West Life that the original Sears Grand concept was flawed and never worked.
“The original concept was supposed to compete with some of the large megastores that were opening in the early 2000s,” Whalin said. “They were mostly geared toward home furnishings and home improvement merchandise.”
Later, management decided to make the Sears Grand locations something of a hybrid Sears store. But the merchandise mix never seemed to be right, said Whalin.
Whalin blames hedge manager Edward Lampert, who controls Sears Holdings, for the 125-year-old retailer’s failings. “It’s now apparent even that didn’t work, as haven’t many of the strategies Mr. Lampert has chosen to employ in his management of Sears Holdings,” Whalin said.
Whalin said the conversion to a Kmart might have made more sense if Westlake were a low- to middle-income area.