Dealers Say Sears Looking to Put Them Out of Business
By George Anderson
Dealers who operate independent Sears stores around the country say that when they signed on with the retail chain, it promised “it would keep them in business for life.”
That promise, some dealers argue in a lawsuit, went out the window when Sears merged with Kmart. In fact, say the dealers, pretty much the opposite has taken place now that popular
brands such as Kenmore and Craftsman sold in their stores are now available at local Kmarts.
The Dealer Store Owners Association, which represents more than 200 Sears stores owned and operated by families or individuals, filed the suit in Minneapolis federal court.
The group’s president, Steve Granger, told Reuters, “Most dealers invested their life savings and 401(k) plans in these stores. Now they risk losing it all. … This is hardly the way to build trust in a brand name.”
Sears counters that it is not in breach of its agreement with the dealers.
Larry Costello, a spokesperson of Sears Holdings said the exclusivity provision does not allow Kenmore products to be sold at a competing store in the same ZIP code as a dealer and the company is living up to its agreement.
“Any changes that are made to the Sears or Kmart stores located near the dealer stores are to enhance the shopping experience for our customers,” he added.
Moderator’s Comment: What can dealer stores do to effectively compete against nearby Kmart locations selling Sears’
George Anderson – Moderator