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Veteran Sears staffer buys store

With more than a decade's worth of appliance sales expertise, JoAnn Johnson decided to tap into her experience and become the new owner/operator of the Detroit Lakes Sears store.

"I have worked for Sears for more than 13 years. I enjoy working with my customers and am very comfortable with the company," she started. "When I saw that the Detroit Lakes store was for sale, I decided I wanted to go for it and buy it."

In addition to selling a variety of name brand appliances from washing machines to refrigerators, the local Sears also has tools, lawn tractors, televisions and soon mattresses for sale, too, said the new owner.

"I want the store to continue to grow," said Johnson. "We have a lot of great products from great companies. I love that we are able to offer top name brands such as Kenmore, Whirlpool, Maytag and etc. to our lakes area customers.

A veteran of the Fargo Sears store, Johnson is excited to lend her more than 13 years of appliance sales knowledge to the Detroit Lakes store.

"I have been at this a while and have developed lots of great relationships with my customers through the years. It is what keeps me in the business, getting to know them on almost a personal level."

Now, Johnson's goal with her own Sears store is to continue to train her staff and grow its business. With changes in the works, both big and small, from the high-definition television switch over set for next year to the introduction of "ship to" at, Johnson says Sears has a lot on its horizon.

"All the TVs we carry are digital and ready to go for the HDTV roll out," she explained. "We will also be carrying the boxes to convert older sets too though."

Said boxes should be in later this spring, said Johnson.

"The new Energy Star compliance changes for refrigerators is another new thing going on right now that is going to put a variety of new refrigerators into the market. Units with bottom freezers and ice and water in the door are hot right now," added the owner/operator."

Then there is the addition of mattresses to the store's current mix of appliance, TV and tool offerings.

"We will be selling mattress sets from Serta in the very near future," Johnson added.

Another change for the local Sears entity is the explosion of

"We sell almost everything larger Sears store do except for clothing. What we don't have in stock, we can also get shipped to us through, which our customers have told us they love," said Johnson.

With a click of a mouse and tapping of a few keys, the online portion of the Sears business has grown substantially, noted Johnson.

"People really seem to like it because they do not have to pay shipping if they have their item sent to the store for pick up. And all they have to do is go online and select the store pick-up option. That's it."

Having taken over the reigns in July of 2007, Johnson commented she has settled into her new role as owner/operator over the past year, noting the store has seen strong sales as well as a lot of hiring and training.

"We have had some of the biggest sales increases in our district and were even asked to be kind of a district training site," concluded the owner/manager.

Located at 1315 Highway 10 west, Johnson's Detroit Lakes Sears store employs seven.