Sears to take Ruskell location in mall

Published 11:09 am Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cory Squier, owner of the Sears in Austin, stands just west of the main Oak Park Mall entrance in front of the former site of Ruskell Hardware, where Sears will move. -- Eric Johnson/

Owner hoping to finish move by Feb. 1

Rumors have been flying about the Sears in Austin, and most of them, according to owner Cory Squier, couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The truth, Squier said, is that Sears is almost doubling in size with a move to the former site of Ruskell Hardware in Oak Park Mall.

“We’re not closing,” Squier said, addressing rumors. “The opposite is true. Hopefully what we’re doing now is a real positive for the mall. I’m excited about it.”

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Squier said the deal is “99 percent done.” He said Sears has already drawn a floor plan and prepared fixtures for the new store, and he hopes to move in by Feb. 1.

Squier had hoped to move not long after Ruskell closed on April 30, but he had to wait for an auction of the previous owner’s inventory, which took place Nov. 12.

Ruskell is about 16,000-square feet, which is about 9,000 more than Sears, and another bonus, Squier said, is the new location will have an exterior entrance.

The new store will feature an expanded assortment of almost everything, especially mattresses, Squier said.

The decision to stay in the mall was an easy one, Squier said, as the mall has been “more than generous.” Squier said there’s a lot of negativity surrounding the mall, but he said it’s doing everything it can to keep business there and add new ones.

“If it weren’t for what they’re doing, we would be looking for a different location,” he said. “They’re treating us that well that we have to stay. Why wouldn’t you come here?”

Squier said he doesn’t see retail growing in Austin, and if people want options, they need to shop locally.

“(The mindset) needs to change,” he said. “Every dollar spent in town helps everybody out. You don’t get that if you shop in Rochester.”

Squier, who has worked with Sears for 11 years and owned the one in Austin for eight years, said the move to a larger location is a dream come true.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “We’ve needed a change for six years. For me, it can’t come soon enough.”

Squier said the move will probably add two or three employees to a current staff of eight, and they will also consider expanded hours.