BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A trend is underway of family’s taking over family businesses. Vinnie’s Longbranch was just sold to family members. Amigos was bought last week by descendants of the original owners and now Sears Hometown in the Main Street District has been sold to family members of Dave and Billie Mosher.
Kerry Snyder and his wife, Tina, purchased the business on Aug. 16. Kerry is Billie’s nephew.
The couple also own the Sears Hometown Store on Main Street in Keokuk which they also purchased from his aunt. They have been looking at acquiring the business since March but were negotiating the lease with the current building owners, Barker Financial of Iowa City.
The building was originally owned by the Moshers and then it was sold to the Frantz brothers when they were looking at refurbishing the Sears building, along with the old Lee County Bank and the Cattermole Library buildings, which was subsequently taken over by Barker Financial.
Snyder said that, for now, the inventory and business plan at the store will remain the same, but he says future plans could include a change in format and possible expansion.
“At some point it’s going to change formats, but I don’t know when,” he said. “Part of it depends on the building and what goes on there. We’ve talked about expanding the building, but one of the biggest things is we don’t have a loading dock here and we have to off-load everything and put it on a delivery truck and then bring it in. I’ve shown the owners how we could put a dock in so they are looking into that.”
Sears has different formats for their Hometown stores as well as corporate stores, like the Quincy location. He said formats include the Sears AAE stores which are what they have in Burlington and Keokuk. The AAE stands for America’s Appliance Experts.
“They’ve been doing some studies on other formats but they don’t have all the feedback on them yet,” Snyder said. “One would be more tools based. They would get rid of mattresses and exercise equipment and focus on the tools. And then at one point they were looking at more of a furniture format, but I don’t think they’re looking at that anymore.”
He said Sears kind of dictates what inventory each store carries, but that’s dependent on what the community has been purchasing. He said he brought in a 0-turn radius lawn mower in Keokuk because customers down there hadn’t seen one, so Sears let him bring that in.
The couple will be holding a grand re-opening on Oct. 20th and 21st with some drawings and special promotions from Sears.
Snyder said he’s looking forward to seeing what happens in the downtown with some new businesses opening and the potential for new streets and sidewalks in the next few years.
“I don’t know how the sewer work is going to affect us, but I hear they’re looking at doing that in the next two to three years. It sounds like it’s going to be torn up for quite a while. I don’t know where that sewer runs down that street.”
Snyder said he hopes the city does the work in phases so people can still get downtown. But he said the new business openings in downtown help bring people into the area for shopping and entertainment and that’s a good thing.
He said his aunt has built a nice customer base, but there are still people who aren’t aware Sears is in Fort Madison.
“The good thing is that it’s been here so long that people know it’s here, but in the same breath people don’t know it’s here, too. I’ve had people tell me they didn’t know there was a Sears store down here.”
The business is located at 704 Avenue G and can be reached at 319-372-0871. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 to 4 on Sunday.