Sears closures won’t affect Steamboat franchise | SteamboatToday.com

Sears closures won’t affect Steamboat franchise

— Hank Martensen and his son, Matt, walked out of the Steamboat Springs Sears store on Tuesday afternoon with a new Toshiba flat-screen TV and a sense of relief that the appliance store they have used to stock their home with microwaves, refrigerators and washing machines for more than a decade is not in danger of closing anytime soon.

"I asked them today if they were closing, because this location is convenient and there aren't a lot of places in Steamboat you can look at an appliance before you buy it and put it in your home," Hank Martensen said.

Jim Hansen and Kevin Sankey, who own the Steamboat Sears, said Tuesday that their franchise store will not be affected by a Sears Holdings Corp. announcement that it will close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart locations nationwide because of poor holiday sales.

Sears has not yet announced which stores will be closed, but Hansen said he was told by his district manager on a conference call Tuesday morning that none of the Sears Hometown stores, including the one in Riverside Plaza, will be closed.

"We were told the closures will all be (limited to) the full-line corporate and box stores," Hansen said. "I don't think the announcement really means much of anything here in Steamboat because we're going to have the same product lines and the same ability to purchase."

He added that he and Sankey are flying next week to Las Vegas for an annual gathering of Sears Hometown store owners.

"I think we'll know a lot more at the end of next week," Hansen said.

Hansen and Sankey bought the Steamboat Sears store in November 2010, and they both said Tuesday they were happy with the amount of business the store has seen since.

"We're very pleased with the support we've gotten from the community," Sankey said. "We've really tried to put more focus on our customer service because we are locals in this community as well, and we realize if we take care of our own, people here are always willing to support local businesses."

Sankey said the national closures are disappointing and a little concerning but also a product of the economic environment.

"It's taking a while for that (consumer) confidence to come back," he said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com