Sears Canada and local owners break ties

By Ben Ingram

The Sears outlet on Railway Avenue closed its doors on Sept. 15, but the company said it intends to open a new one.

Sears Canada spokesman Vincent Powers said he was aware of the inconveniences created by the store’s sudden closure.

“I think North Battleford’s the closest place to go, that’s a pain for sure, we know that,” Powers said. He added that Meadow Lake has been an effective market for the company and that a new store will open once new ownership and property can be found.

Unlike the bigger stores in larger centres, Sears refers to outlets like the one in Meadow Lake as hometown stores. Instead of the company hiring its own employees, the task is delegated to a property owner like Rhonda Maier who earns a share of the profits.

“A local business person usually gets the building that meets with our approval, they kind of hire the staff and manage that. They run the sears program,” he explained. “The only difference (from a) franchise really is we don’t have all these exorbitant franchise fees.”

When asked why the arrangement between the two groups came to an end, Powers wouldn’t go into specifics.

“We just had to make the decision to disengage with that particular owner, I can’t really get into the details as to why,” he said. “That’s more out of respect for them.”

But Maier said the decision was a mutual one made by both parties. She doesn’t expect any legal action to result from the agreement.

“We have been the agents for the last 15 years, we just needed a change,” she explained.

As for merchandise ordered by local customers, small items were re-directed to the North Battleford store while larger big-ticket items were made available for pickup up to Sept. 23.

Maier said she is grateful for the support given to their business over the last 15 years and added that she may be exploring new business opportunities in the city.

“We are looking at a variety of different options to boost the business sector of Meadow Lake,” she said.

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