BENNINGTON >> The local Sears Hometown Store in the Monument Plaza has closed.
A sign on the front door of the business states it is no longer open. The Sears sign over the space has been removed and the store appeared to be mostly empty inside Wednesday. The reason for the independently-owned retail location's closing is unclear.
The website for Redstone Investments of Youngstown, O.H., the entity that owns the commercial plaza that houses Walmart, Price Chopper and Petco, lists the former Sears space as available for rent.
A civil suit filed by the store's landlord last winter alleged the tenant owed more than $50,000 in rent. The suit listed Raymond E. Tattersall, of Lisbon, N.H., doing business as Sears Dealer Store, as the defendant. A judgement order was issued against Tattersall in June.
The local store at 214 Northside Drive Unit 5 was part of the Hometown Store program, which is under the umbrella of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. The company was formed in 2012 and is a subsidiary of Sears Holdings, the parent company that operates Sears department stores.
Hometown stores are independently owned. Most carry Sears brand products, such as Kenmore. Each dealer is responsible for operating expenses like leasing a space, providing in-store fixtures and hiring and training employees. Stores are supported by the Sears retail network which provides inventory, advertising and delivery support. It's not considered a franchise program because Sears does not require an individual to purchase inventory or pay an annual fee, according to the company's website.
The hometown store's website does not currently list the Bennington location among the 842 across the country. But the store is listed in an archived version of the website from Sept. 5, 2015, captured by web crawler www.waybackmachine.org.
According to Banner archives, Sears' 7,800-square-foot retail space underwent renovations in 2007. Sears took over the store's management when a previous owner opted not to renew the lease for 2013, advertised the store for sale and sought an individual looking to own and operate a hometown store. It's unclear how long Tattersal owned the store.
A suit filed on Feb. 17, 2015 against Tattersall on behalf of BLS Bennington, LC, the entity that owns the Monument Plaza, alleged rent was not paid for months at a time.
The suit alleged Tattersall signed a three-year lease agreement with the landlord on Jan. 31, 2014 and agreed to pay $6,175 per month in rent. Payments were due on the first of each month and failing to pay would mean Tattersall was in default on the lease.
The suit alleged Tattersall failed to pay monthly rent and late fees due from September 2014 to April 2015. According to a motion filed by the landlord's general counsel on May 6, 2015, Tattersall owed $54,666.67 in rent and late fees, and $1,991.73 in attorney's fees and costs, with interest accruing at 12 percent per annum.
Tattersall was personally served with the summons and complaint on March 18, 2015, according to the affidavit, and had not filed an answer or appearance with the court as of May 6, 2015. A judgement order was issued against Tattersall on June 3, 2015.
It was unclear how much, if any, rent had been paid to the property owner.
Attempts to reach Tattersall, representatives of Redstone Investments and the public relations firm representing Sears Hometown Stores Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979