While Sears corporate said it was closing the Covington store due to performance, Pat Campbell, owner of the physical building at 5153 U.S. Highway 278, said he was told the store was unable to find an independent owner to operate the store.
Covington's Sears, which has been in existence at some location since the 1960s, will close March 27 and the store is discounting prices in an effort to move inventory. Corporate spokesman Larry Costello said in a Feb. 2 email that "Sears Hometown Stores periodically opens (and) closes stores based on market performance."
Campbell said Friday that business was down significantly but he said that a transition official with Sears told him the company was having trouble finding an operator for the Covington store. The official told Campbell operating the store itself costs the company money.
Many Sears Hometown Stores are independently operated, and Covington's has been for years. Under this agreement, the local operator pays rent, utilities and employees' wages, while Sears corporate covers advertising and inventory costs, Campbell said. The store operator then gets a share of the profits.
Campbell built the 9,000 square foot store on U.S. 278 in 1993 specifically for Sears, but the iconic corporation has been in Covington for decades.
There used to be a Sears on the square in the 1960s, Campbell said, which in the1970s moved to the current Lendmark Financial location at the corner of Emory and Usher streets.
The building is for rent, but Campbell said he has only received one call so far from a thrift store operator. Those interested in renting the store can call Campbell at 770-786-2375 or visit his offices next to The Depot Bar and Grill off Ga. Highway 81. He rent warehouses and houses in addition to retail spaces.