The two Sears stores in HoCo may soon spout new stores within the stores. The parent company, Sears Holdings, has launched a nationwide initiative to lease portions of their existing stores to other retailers. According to this story by Jonathan O’Connell in Capital Business, the company “is ratcheting up efforts to lease or sell space at existing stores across the country, creating an online registry of its properties and listing nearly all of its stores there for interested tenants and buyers.”
The website shows the 15,733 square foot auto center in the Columbia Mall as a potential “opportunity” as well as the 85,664 square foot Sears Essentials store in the Chatham Station Shopping Center.
"Over the course of the recession, retailers, shopping centers, everyone has had to get more creative and look for more sources of revenue," said Jesse Tron, a spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers. He said customers frequently don't know the difference between a tenant and other Sears departments. "They basically just build out a little section of the store so you don't even feel like you're in another part of the store," he said."
I wouldn’t be surprised if Sears ended up leasing the Chatham in its entirety to another retailer or two. The rebranding of the former K Mart to Sears Essentials seems to have failed to generate much excitement with shoppers.
On the other hand the auto center at the Columbia Sears has already been leased to a private operator for years.