Business & economy

BUSINESS BEAT: New owners take on, expand Sears outlet in Ontario

Ryan and Shaunie Hamilton, in their showroom on Nov. 11, 2021, say they want customers to feel like family at the Ontario Sears Hometown outlet they purchased this fall. (The Enterprise/LES ZAITZ)

ONTARIO – Shaunie Hamilton and her husband Ryan are the new owners of the Sears Hometown Store in Ontario, but the business is not really new to her.

Having worked as manager for the prior franchisee since August 2019, she saw a lot of potential in the store – but also wanted to make some changes. 

She said she was looking at other possible Sears franchise options when this one became available. The couple took over on Sept. 3. 

The Hamiltons moved the store into the building that formerly housed Lumbermen’s Building Center, at 2057 S.W. 4th Ave.

It’s close to the former store location but Shaunie says the new site has more storage space and better flow in a larger showroom area. With the stock on one floor, it’s more accessible for customers to easily view the array of appliances and other goods offered.

The No. 1 focus currently is on large appliances, she said, but the business also sells lawn and garden equipment, tools, and vacuums and small appliances. The store gets delivery of new stock twice a week, she said.

Right now, there’s high demand for freezers and ranges, she said. 

The store employs three people full time and one part time, with growth expected in the future.

Ryan, who was a commercial truck driver for 13 years before this, handles all the deliveries and also works with his wife in the store. 

The nearest Hometown outlets are in Nampa, Mountain Home and La Grande, which leaves a good-sized service area for the Ontario store. Shaunie said the business draws customers not only from Malheur County, but from Idaho and Baker and Harney counties.

It offers home delivery and installation, financing options and service warranties, and they also will haul away the customer’s old models.

Shaunie said the aim is to provide a customer-friendly experience. She’s even told people if a sale price is coming up right away on an appliance they decide to buy, so they can get the best possible deal.

“Our motto is ‘We treat you like family,’” she said. “It’s never my goal to just make a sale. I want people to be pleased with what they bought from us.”

The Hamiltons have eight children between them, five of the kids – age 7 to 16 – at home with them in Nyssa and occasionally helping in the store. Shaunie has family roots in Malheur County and is a 2004 graduate of Vale High School. 

The store is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Anticipating a busy holiday season, the Saturday hours will be extended to 7 p.m. from Nov. 27 to Christmas week. 

For information, contact the store at 541-889-4525.

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