John Harris (above) and his wife Trisha recently became the new owners of the Ontario Sears store. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

ONTARIO – Looks, John Harris said, can be deceiving.

Especially when it comes to business.

The Weiser man took over the Ontario Sears store in March. Business at the store, at 2441 Southwest 4th Avenue, is growing, said Harris.

But Harris said since he acquired the franchise, he faced a problem of perception. That’s because many people believe Sears is in financial trouble.

Sears may be but Harris isn’t. Neither is his company, Sears Hometown. Sears and Sears Hometown, said Harris, are separate organizations. Sears Hometown stores are independently owned but sell Sears products.

“We share a name but we have our own CEO and our own supply chain and our own individual pricing,” said Harris. Harris and his wife Trisha were cautious when they first looked into buying the Sears store.

“I thought here is this company that keeps announcing all this debt and closing stores. So, we pulled back the curtain and looked at everything and if you look at each individual store, they are doing fine,” said Harris.

Harris isn’t a stranger to Sears. And Sears isn’t a stranger to the local areas. For years Sears was a cornerstone in Ontario’s West Park Plaza. The store moved to its current location in 2014.

Harris started to work for Sears in 1999. At one point, he managed a Sears store in Seattle. He left the firm, though, and tried different jobs. He sold cars for a while and then worked at Truckstop.com, a subscription-based software firm, until the company moved his job slot to Boise. Harris said he didn’t want to leave the Ontario area so he began to look for another career path. 

For Harris, the decision to go back to his business roots was a welcome challenge to build a solid customer base.

“It also gave me an opportunity to restore customer service,” said Harris.

Harris said his store offers a full line of appliances, including dishwashers, microwaves and Craftsman tools.

Harris said the other advantage of his store is he can order and receive products faster than his competitors.

“How long it takes me to get it is a fraction of what it takes the bigger guys. And most of the time my prices are better and I can get it two weeks faster,” said Harris. Harris, 42, said he employs seven people and hopes one day to be able to move his store.

He also plans to expand.

“I see the future panning out with a Sears store in McCall,” said Harris.