Greg and Wendy Hamilton are returning the Sears name to Cleveland at Bradley Square Mall when it opens the Sears Hometown Store on May 1. That’s the day Wendy says everything will be out of the garage.
“Yes. Yes,” she exclaimed. “My car will be parked in the garage again.”
Greg and Wendy are both from Cleveland and met at Cleveland High School. From there, Greg continued his education at Lee University before entering the business world.
The couple has one son and one daughter. Josh is a junior at Cleveland High School where he is on the state championship wrestling team. Ashley, who is a freshman at CHS, is a cheerleader and a member of the homecoming court.
Wendy is the daughter of Alice Lowe. Greg is the son of Don and Dianne Hamilton. Don was employed by Sears 43 years until he retired from the company’s anchor store in 2010. Maybe because he retired, Sears announced in December 2011 it was closing the 51,000-square-foot store on the south end of Bradley Square Mall.
“Dad worked for two companies in his life, the United States Air Force and Sears. I don’t know of anybody who can say that about their dad,” he said.
Though technically it is still a Sears store, Don could jeopardize his stellar employment record by working a third job.
“He’d better,” Greg said. “He loves people and I told him I’m going to have to figure out where his corner is. I want to get him a chair and a coffee machine. He used to be chairman of the coffee club at the old Sears store,” he explained. “We’re going to have to get a dad’s corner where the coffee machine and chair is so he can just come and go, talk to people or do whatever he wants to do.”
Greg and Wendy’s 8,500-square-foot Hometown Store is located on the west end of the mall across the corridor from the Big Kmart.
“Even with our mall location, we picked a place where we not only have an interior mall entrance for people in the mall doing other things, but we have our own exterior entrance,” he said. “You can pull right up to our door dressed in sweatpants and a T-shirt, run in and grab a tape measure or whatever you need, jump back in your car and do whatever you need to do.”
The store will offer a wide selection of well-known Sears brands such as Kenmore appliances, Craftsman tools, lawn and garden products, and DieHard car and boat batteries.
“When you walk through our door, you’re going to see our smiling faces. We’ll be actively involved. The store is designed to have a hometown feel to it, or call us on the phone and let us know how we can help you,” he said.
Greg has an extensive background in finance and business. He worked for Sears from 2001 to 2006 in the product repair division where he had oversight of a $300 million portfolio. That portfolio included 75 product repair units and merchandise delivery operations in a territory that covered everywhere south and east of Phoenix. Talk of moving him to Chicago kept coming up in annual reviews, “but our kids were small at the time, and we didn’t really want to relocate.”
In 2006, he went to Santek Environmental, where he was employed as executive vice president and chief financial officer until 2010 when he departed from the corporate world for various entrepreneurial pursuits.
“I really wanted to put more emphasis on the entrepreneurial work ever since. Wendy and I were looking for something we could do locally because we’re both Cleveland folks. It is a community that has been terrific to us and our family,” he said. “We’re deeply rooted here and we wanted to do something locally to serve other families of the community.”
Wendy said she liked the idea of opening the store almost as soon as Greg made the suggestion.
“I really did. I thought it was a great idea,” she said. “It’s something we can do together. When he told me it was a Sears Hometown Store, ‘hometown’ sounded good to me. Everybody I’ve told about it was excited that Sears is coming back to Cleveland. Sears is coming back to Cleveland, but it is also a ‘hometown store.’ We want you to come in, have a cup of coffee and tell us what your needs are. We’re very excited.”