When you call Northwest Colorado home, finding the right home appliance can often involve a trip to the Front Range. For many area homeowners, such a trip is considered the only way of purchasing an affordable appliance.
Not so, says Thaine Mahanna.
"I think a lot of people have been going out of town to Home Depot and stores like that," said Mahanna, who recently purchased the Steamboat Springs Sears store with his wife, Lisa. "We want to keep business in the valley just like other (local) businesses do."
The Mahannas take over operation of the store today, and they said they plan to address needed improvements in Sears' quality of customer service. Many of those improvements will be simple, such as making sure a ringing phone is answered and that customers are being helped.
"The biggest thing is to upgrade the level of customer service," Lisa Mahanna said. "People will be greeted with a smile when they walk in the store."
"We kind of want to get the word out that it's changing hands," she said. "We're being very well received by people who know it's in new hands."
Lisa and Thaine have lived in Steamboat for 10 years.
Lisa will assume primary responsibilities of operating the store. For the past five years she has worked as an optician at Helm Eye Center. She also has worked as the branch manager at Vectra Bank Colorado and as an operations manager at Alpine Bank.
Thaine is a land developer whose projects include Emerald Village, a small four-lot equestrian community on the backside of Emerald Mountain.
He is working on developing the Lithia Neighborhood in the Fairview area, which will have four homes and as many as two duplexes.
The local Sears store is an authorized dealer, which means the Mahannas have a private contractor agreement with Sears. They guarantee prices will be similar to those at Sears locations in larger cities.
They lease the space at 2855 Shield Drive, which has about 8,500 square feet of showroom and warehouse space.
While the store may not display many of the products found in larger Sears stores, the Steamboat branch can order most of the goods those stores carry, the Mahannas said.
"The prices here are the same prices as what you get in the Front Range," Thaine said. "You would think there would be associated price increases, but there aren't."
Although Sears is best known for its Kenmore appliances, products from companies such as Jenn-Air, KitchenAid and Frigidaire are available for local consumers.
The Mahannas said they plan to offer more variety on display in the showroom, and they said the store will carry appliances they think will appeal to second-home and high-end homeowners, such as stainless steel.
The Mahannas also hope to expand contractor sales and strengthen the store's staffing.
"There are good employees there now and we want to focus on retention," Thaine said.
Thaine said the store will have a grand re-opening soon. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.