MATTOON -- The owner of the Sears Hometown Store in downtown Mattoon plans to close this business and then open an independent new and used appliance shop at this same location.

Owner Tanner Kroening said a liquidation sale is scheduled to start today Friday, Nov. 30, at the Sears Hometown Store, 1601 Broadway Ave., and continue through the store's last day in business on Jan. 12. Kroening said he intends to open his new store, with the same staff, by Feb. 1 in this building.

Hometown Stores are independently operated by franchise owners under the corporate structure of Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores, Inc., which became a separate company from Sears Holdings Corp. in 2012.

Kroening said franchise owners were told repeatedly that the Sears Holdings Corp.'s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October would not affect their stores. However, he said the bankruptcy filing resulted in some vendors not delivering products to Sears Holdings Corp. distribution centers, which are shared by the franchise organization.

"When they were unable to get products, we were unable to get products as well," Kroening said. He added that the delivery of products did resume after this disruption.

In addition, Kroening said the bankruptcy court ruled that Hometown Stores can no longer sell protection agreements due to the court's concerns about Sears Holdings Corp. potentially not being able to fulfill these agreements.

Kroening said Sears Holdings Corp. is a good company and he hopes that they come out of the bankruptcy proceedings all right, but he decided it was time to separate on good terms and then open a completely independent store. He added that the Sears Hometown Store at 1306 Thelma Keller Ave. in Effingham is slated to remain open.

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When his new store opens after a transition period of about two-and-a-half weeks, Kroening said he plans to offer sales and service for new and used appliances. He is also looking into other product options for this store.

"It will be a totally locally owned and operated," Kroening said.

His parents, Terry and Jan Kroening, opened this Sears Hometown Store in October 2015 at 1601 Broadway after renovating the building there. Kroening served as the store manager and then became the store owner in early 2017. He also is a co-owner of the new Culture Frozen Yogurt shop downtown.

The Sears department store at the east end of the Cross County Mall closed in April 2014. The mall's new owner, the Mattoon-based Rural King company, has reported that it plans to move its Mattoon store into the former Sears space in mid-January.

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @RobStroud


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