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 The Essentials concept was a rather cheap conversion of an outdated Kmart into a store similar with Kmart that had some random Sears merchandise shoved in and no pantry.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.