Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sears Grand in Solon, Ohio

Nicholas Eckhart

          The Sears Grand concept started out in 2003 with a 200,000 square foot prototype store in West Jordan, Utah. The West Jordan store was designed to look modern and had all the items a normal Sears would carry plus other items such as pantry. The Sears Grand concept was originally intended to be an "off mall" concept and was the same size as a regular super-center  Within the next year, seven other new Sears Grand stores were opened across the United States. The Sears Grand concept was Sears' vision of the future and the original concept could have potentially became more common if Kmart and Sears did not merge.

          After the Kmart and Sears merger Kmart started to convert many of their stores to a concept called Sears Essentials. The Essentials concept was a rather cheap conversion of an outdated Kmart into a store similar with Kmart that had some random Sears merchandise shoved in and no pantry. Sears Holdings later started calling the newer Kmart to Sears Essentials stores "Sears Grand" and even re-branded some Sears Essentials stores as Sears Grand.

          By the late 2000s the Sears Essentials concept tanked. All stores branded as Sears Essentials either converted back to Kmart or closed. All but two of the Sears Grand stores inside former Kmart stores were closed or converted back to Kmart. One of the two remaining Sears Grand stores in a former Kmart store in Warrenton, Virginia converted into a regular Sears Department store. Only one Sears Grand in a former Kmart still exists as of 2013; that store is in Solon, Ohio.

          The old Kmart store in Solon, Ohio became a Sears Grand. Unlike the original Sears Grand concept the store is only 86,000 square feet (instead of almost 200,000 square feet), has a much smaller selection, has no food for sale, has a completely different look, and is in a small town instead of an intensely competitive shopping district. So how did only one of these stores manage to stay inside a former Kmart?

          Solon, Ohio has several grocery and discount retailers nearby such as Walmart, Target, and Marc's. The only department store in the area other than the Sears Grand is Kohl's. The Kohl's store is a bit far off of any major highway in the area and Sears is very close to a super-highway. Also, the Sears store is located in the middle of Solon instead of out of town by the abandoned Geauga Lake Amusement Park. In satellite imagery it appears the Sears Grand store has more customers than the Kohl's a few miles away and is the main department store for Solon.

          Here are some pictures of the Sears Grand in Solon. For those unfamiliar with (or simply interested in) the Sears Grand concept, there are some pictures of a ground-up Sears Grand store in Pittsburgh at the bottom of this post.

Old Garden Center

Unlike ground-up Sears Grand stores this store leases out the auto center instead of operating a Sears Auto Center. Also, there is no in-store entry into this auto center 

A fake window, these were part of the Sears Grand remodel

A standard Sears sign is on the street

About a quarter of this store is Lands' End merchandise

A cell-phone kiosk is inside this store.

Here are some pictures of a ground-up Sears Grand store in Pittsburgh.


  1. Sears Grand looks so awesome I want to go to one someday

  2. Thanks for sharing. I love the new concept but they did a really nice job redoing that 70s store.

  3. The original Grand concept was very cool. The only mistake they made was making food such an afterthought. Either go all in or give it up. Just like a Kmart, the pantry section is fairly embarrassing. I'm amazed the Pittsburgh Grand is still going since its always dead and the mall has never lived up to its promise. It seems like its living on borrowed time.

    The Solon store is always neat and well organized. That auto center has been rented out going back to after Penske closed. I'm guessing that's why RadAir is still there over an in house brand. I'm not sure how well this store does. I've been in there and it's pretty empty. You're correct that its location seems good traffic wise but all the big box action is further away and seems to draw more shoppers. There's several shopping centers nearby that have struggled for years although they are being redeveloped so maybe that will boost Sears.

  4. Would this be the same former Solon Kmart referenced at the end of this 1978 Kmart TV commercial? Presumably the actual Kmart depicted in that ad where Danny Wells (Charlie the Bartender from The Jeffersons) and company are dancing on is in California or something even if it is architecturally similar on the outside to the Solon Grand Kmart.

    It looks like Sears did a pretty good job converting that Kmart into what is basically a one story Sears full-line store given a likely low budget for the renovation. It's certainly not as nice as the bespoke Sears Grand depicted here, but I guess it'll do. I can't really say with any authority what a Sears Grand or Essentials store should look like in the flesh as they, like Kmart, are not common in these parts. Of course, it still looks like a Kmart on the outside and inside (architecturally at least) so perhaps they have an uphill battle convincing people that this Sears Grand is a department type store and not a discount store. The tacky fake windows are part of the problem and not part of the solution! That said, those who actually stop there expecting a typical Kmart type experience may be pleasantly surprised (assuming typical longtime Kmart maladies like not having more than one checkout open, sales tags still up on shelves from sales that expired two months ago, items in the advertisements not being in stock, etc. are resolved) and that may bode well for the chain as a whole. Like I said, I have not been in one of these stores. Am I expecting too much?

  5. Pictures look great but where are all the customers?

  6. Sears in Solon is officially closing :( December 7, 2014 is the scheduled last day.

  7. My friend works in the Solon store. Understaffed, not well educated or knowledgeable are the staff. It's Solon do people really want Aldis, Marcs or Sears? Not really.

  8. The Pittsburgh Sears Grand that appears here as well is also closing-January 2015.

    1. That's a shame...what a nice looking store and nice looking displays/merchandise. When was this store still looks very up-to-date or really...futuristic. I know that brick and mortar is being marginalized by online shopping would be nice to these Sears Grands throughout the USA.

  9. The Solon Sears Grand/ex-Kmart may be closing soon, but it continues to generate interesting stories. An elderly woman drove her car through the wall of the store this past week. This news story about the crash has an interesting in-store interior image of the crash damage that seems to show some unearthed vintage Kmart stripes that were covered by renovations.

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  11. I went in there yesterday, Less than half the stuff is left. It's starting to look depressingly empty. I never really shopped there a lot but I still liked the place. Sometimes they would have what I was looking for. I think when Sears bought Kmart that was baggage that they didn't need but hey, it kept Kmart going. I wouldn't be surprised if if Sears and/or Kmart went out of business within the next 8 years. I think Craftsman is the best thing they have going for them so maybe that is keeping them afloat. Most stores around me are the hardware stores, so tools are their biggest seller I guess. It too bad their Sears grand didn't t do better. Judging by the one in Pittsburgh, it looked like they could of been competition for Super Walmart if they added a nice grocery section to them. Oh well I guess I'll have to go to Sears and Kmart by them selves if I need something the Sears grand would of had. I just hope Marc's isn't effected to much don't want to see them move and turn that area into a vacant shopping center. We don't need any more of that.

  12. I live in Las Vegas Nevada. Our Sears Grand store is always packed with people. I shop there for my oil changes, tires, batteries. The one thing they did take out was the pantry side. They replace it with a larger baby/home section. I recently bought 6 Samsung 50" TV's from them and got a better price then Sams club and Costco were selling them. Anyway I can tell you that the Sears Grand store in Las Vegas will never be on the closing list, due to it being so popular.


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