Pretty Much Every Sears And Kmart Store Is For Rent Right Now

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Pretty Much Every Sears And Kmart Store Is For Rent Right Now

Image courtesy of (Pete Kraynak)

Sears Holdings Corporation, the company that runs Sears and Kmart, has a problem. They have a lot of real estate, and not enough sales to keep all of that real estate busy. One solution is to close stores as they underperform or as their leases expire, which is what the company has been doing. Another solution? Rent out that space. For the right customer, virtually every Sears and Kmart store is up for grabs.

Not the whole stores, of course. While there are a few closed buildings available to anyone interested in opening their own big box, most space available is inside Sears or Kmart stores that are already operating and plan to stay in business after you move in. It’s the retail equivalent of renting out your spare bedroom or in-law apartment for extra cash.

Every store, really?

Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart

It doesn’t take extensive retail experience to figure out what’s going on here. Sears Holdings owns a lot of buildings, and they hold long-term leases on a lot more. They’re not doing enough business to fill all of that space with merchandise and employees. In a press release from earlier this year, a Sears executive said this about a deal signed with Dick’s Sporting Goods:

“We have executed a number of these transactions that serve as an additional revenue stream, drive efficiency in our store operations and bring in increased customer traffic.”

Demised Space

Image courtesy of Sears Holdings

Want to rent some space next to a Kmart store? How about some empty space inside a Sears store? Maybe you’d be interested in a Sears Automotive building out in the parking lot. All of that and more is available at Sears Holdings Realty.

What would this look like in practice? There are a few examples of subdivided Searses already up and operating. While the Whole Foods store that opened in Albany, NY earlier this month inspired this post, there are plenty of other examples in the Whole Foods chain alone. The first was in Colorado, and there are also Whole Foods stores carved out of Sears anchors in Greensboro, North Carolina, and in Clearwater, Florida.

There are other examples, too: at the King of Prussia Mall near Philadelphia, Dick’s Sporting Goods agreed to be roommates with Sears, subleasing part of the 215,000-foot anchor store’s second story. “This project will bring more energy and activity to this area of the mall, where customers will also find easy access to restaurants and other dining choices,” an executive with Simon, the mall’s owner, said at the time. Translation: the mall’s customers hadn’t yet figured out that there’s always parking at Sears.

Out of curiosity, we checked the Sears store directory against the Sears Holdings Realty site listings for the state of New York. Every Sears store has space up for grabs, and Auto centers that are attached to buildings or detached are available as well. (Would a car-related business open up in a spot so closely associated with the Sears brand? Guess we’ll find out.)

Go ahead and check the listings yourself: surely there are Sears and Kmart stores in your market, and surely they’re up for rent unless their leases explicitly prohibit subleases. Filter by state or by market. There you will find every Sears-owned store, open for non-Sears business.

Their plan all along

Image courtesy of Brian Sozzi

It’s possible, of course, that Sears will be much better at being a landlord than it currently is at being a retailer. Having less space to fill will certainly cut back on sad empty shelves and spaces filled with random junk that some Sears stores are currently filled with.

Analysis from last fall by The Motley Fool points out that if this was Sears’ plan all along, maybe they were wise not to spend cash on a JCPenney-style extreme makeover: if parts of those stores were going to be redeveloped for other retailers anyway, why bother?

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  1. Mokona512 says:

    Sears has ruined their own business due to poor decisions and horrible management and bad customer service. From not honoring their online prices, to having fake internal sites with higher prices, to telling customers that they cannot give them the online price but they can order it using the store computer that if infected with every piece of malware on the planet. They have done everything possible to make the consumer experience, a bad one.

    The times when I spotted a decent deal, the item would be listed as in stock but they will be nowhere to be found in the store, and then if you ask for help, they will tell you that the the only inventory they have is whats on the shelf. They pulled this crap when there was a sale on a craftsman 26 piece toolset. I ended up leaving without it, but another customer who also wanted it, orderd it for instore pickup, and was able to get it.

    Nothing says don’t shop here by making customers waste their time driving to your store, and meeting unhelpful staff, or having an unwillingness to honor a pricing on the website. I would much rather order online and get my item delivered without me having to argue with the staff to get them to honor their advertised pricing, or lie about items that are in stock but they say it is not.

    I went through that crap enough times with bestbuy where the in stock item was magically not in stock, but then magically back in stock when I ordered for instore pickup right in front of them. (only because I had an account with them from the HP touchpad fire sale, and had a gift card with them that was about to expire).

    • furiousd says:

      Agreed, too much about their shabby internal system is exposed to the customer. All I want to know is if what I want is available at a price I’m willing to pay. I don’t care about their internal problems that should have been resolved long ago: as the paying customer I shouldn’t have to play tricks and coach them through how to give me what I came for.