After more than a year of dormancy, the vacant 8,750-square-foot retail space at Town and Country Plaza on Route 20 East will soon be occupied by a Sears Hometown Store.
Local property developer David Muraco recently struck a deal with Steve Seitz, general manager of Sears Hometown/ SR & Development Inc., who hopes to open the new location by June.
“The best thing that [a Sears Hometown Store] provides to a small community is competitive pricing. All the products are priced by Sears Corporate,” Seitz said. “We chose Cazenovia to be the first store we open based on the different demographics and the unique market that exists … We’re not setting up shop in a smaller community and raising prices. Customers can drive into a Sears store in Syracuse and pay the same amount. It’s a good feeling to be part of the growth that’s happening in Cazenovia.”
Unlike larger Sears department stores, the Cazenovia location will not sell clothing — the main bulk of the business is Kenmore appliances, lawn and garden equipment, tractors and Craftsman tools, in addition to bedding and housewares. Seitz will act as the area manager, and the store will be locally staffed and managed by Eric Towne.
Towne currently works as a manager of Sears in Batavia, and is in the process of moving to Cazenovia with his wife Alissa and children, Jadeyn, 9; Connor, 7; Bailey, 4; and one-year-old twins Ethan and Elijah – all of whom will become students of the Cazenovia Central School District.
“We feel that the community is going to be a perfect fit for Sears and our family,” Towne said. “We have driven out on a few occasions to look around the area and to get a feel for the people. Each time, we were glad to see how friendly everyone was … we noticed right away the strong sense of community. Not one person we spoke with had a negative comment regarding either the area or the school. Which, having so many children, is a major concern. We look forward to getting to meet everyone and to become a part of the Cazenovia community.”
Seitz said the new store, which will include a 5,500-square-foot showroom, will employ about three full-time workers in addition to a staff of part-time employees. There are currently no plans to alter the exterior of the existing structure, other than adding two of the familiar Sears emblems on either side of the building’s clock tower.
Hoping to fully integrate the business into the community, both Seitz and Towne plan a workforce of locally-based employees.
“It’s not going to be just a Sears store. It will be a locally, independently-owned store that will employ friends and family members of people within the community,” Seitz said. “It’s a very important thing to us to be involved with the Chamber of Commerce, to be involved with the local events … It’s a national name, but it’s run by people who are on the same level as everyone else.”
As work begins on the interior of the retail space, Seitz and Towne will look to introduce themselves to the community and plan a grand opening. Seitz said the tentative opening date for the new Sears Hometown Store is currently June 1.
More information on the national business can be found at searshometownstores.com.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.