Sears Hometown store owner in Richmond says his store isn't going out of business, despite the name

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SAME NAME, DIFFERENT PROBLEMS: While the big box Sears Holdings has filed for bankruptcy, Sears Hometown stores hasn't. But sales just haven't been the same at the locally owned and operated stores.

They might share the same name, but the owner of the Sears Hometown store in Richmond wants you to know they are not filing for bankruptcy.

Stephen Stark has been with the company for 29 years, but after Monday's news, he says he's never been so stressed.

"We're not going anywhere," Stark said. "We keep opening locations, but the name on our building says otherwise."

The store on Highway 90 is a smaller, locally owned and operated store.

Yes, that means they are different from Sears Holdings, the big box company that filed for bankruptcy on Monday.

The companies are independent of each other. There are about 700 Sears Hometown stores across the nation, 18 locations right here in the Houston area.

Stark says while his store used to bank on the once-dominant retail name 'Sears,' it is now driving customers away.

"No phone calls, no nothing. As a retailer you worry about that," Stark says. "When the average customer thinks you're going out of business, they're going bankrupt."

Sears Holdings plans to close 142 more stores by the end of the year. Stark was actually hoping that would help Sears Hometown stores.

"When Woodlands Mall closed their store, we opened across the street," Stark says. "So that's the idea, as they close more stores, we'll continue to open them."

Though he can't change the name, Stark believes re-branding is now the only way to save his business.

He's hoping the Sears bankruptcy doesn't trickle down too much and customers will now make Sears Hometown stores their new go-to when it comes to all things appliances.

"You get locally owned and operated business owners that care about their people in their communities, try to serve them and put their blood, sweat and tears in the stores," Stark said.

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