MILLEDGEVILLE — When David Olinger’s corporate company downsized, he decided to pack up and move his family from the easternmost state in the United States to a place with a much warmer climate and southern hospitality — Milledgeville.
“My wife [June] is from Pennsylvania and I’m from Indianapolis, and we met in college in North Carolina. My work led us to move to the Maine area and after an early retirement as a regional sales manager for a specialty chemicals company, I looked at different opportunities with Sears since I’ve always been interested in the company,” David said. “I figured if I was going to make a major change then I was going to go to a better climate where it doesn’t snow anymore, and this location just stuck out as one of the best.”
The Olingers officially purchased the local Sears Hometown Store off North Columbia Street in May 2012 after the previous independent owner Kimberly Stewart sold it to Sears, which served as the interim owner for five months.
“Sears has been in Milledgeville for over 20 years with its first location on the south side of town. It has been at this current location for about 10 to 12 years now. We focus on what Sears has always done best in hometown stores with our level of service we provide. In fact, Sears Hometown Stores are growing with over 900 hometown stores nationwide,” David said. “Mall stores are full-line and they carry clothing, shoes and soft-line goods, but the soft-line market has become very competitive. As a hometown store, we focus on appliances, lawn and garden, tools and mattresses; If you look at Sears’ history, that’s their bread and butter. Their well-known brands have been out since 1927.”
David said the buisness’ top priority is providing excellent customer service and making sure shoppers find quality products at fair prices that meet their needs.
“I like the community feel here and being a hometown community person, I want this store to be well-received, well-respected and a place people want to shop at,” he said. “The customer is the most important person; if you ever lose sight of that then you’ll never be successful.”
The local store’s sales floor includes around 8,000 square feet of appliances, fitness equipment, lawn and garden merchandise, consumer electronics, tools and mattresses by the most recognized brands, including Kenmore, Craftsman and Sealy.
“We’ve recently expanded our bedding department. Sears has a low-price guarantee so customers get their best deal here. Sears is constantly changing their lines, so you will see the store change from time to time,” David said. “What’s unique about us is we’re more personal because it’s locally owned. When customers come in, they are going to deal with local people and not have to worry about a big corporation. With this being my store, our reputation out in the community is important.”
Shoppers with a Shop Your Way reward card will receive an extra 10 percent off most items Monday.
“If customers aren’t a Shop Your Way member, we can sign them up for it and they can become one that day for no charge,” David said. “We have a family and friends event every month for an additional 10 percent off storewide. We also give seniors 10 percent off on top of savings that are already here usually around once every six weeks.”
The appliance store recently became a member of the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce.
“I thank the community, the business community and customers for being extremely welcoming. This is one of the friendliest places I have ever lived,” David said. “I’ve staked my future here.”
Open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, the local Sears store is located at 1831 N. Columbia St. in the Quiznos shopping center.
“My whole family is involved here in addition to the staff. My oldest son, when he’s home from college in Florida, unloads trucks, he has been on the sales floor and he assembles. My youngest son in high school has unloaded trucks and has done a lot of janitorial work. My wife operates as the manager and we have an assistant manager and three other part-timers,” David said. “Right now, I’m going to keep going. This could be lifelong for us, so we will have to wait and see what the future holds.”
For more information about upcoming sales, new products, home improvement tips, or to meet the Olinger’s, call 478-452-4546, visit www.searshometownstores.com or like the newly-developed Sears Hometown Store Milledgeville Facebook page.
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