Sears finds new home in Ponce de Leon Mall

The St. Augustine local news desk of Historic City News confirmed that local Sears Hometown Store owner, Jack Bunch, has opened the lid on many new Kenmore washers and dryers since going to work with Sears in 1965.

This month, however, he opens them at his new location inside the Ponce de Leon mall.

Bunch is no stranger to the mall because when he came to the St. Augustine store in 1983, it was located in the building now occupied by Blockbuster; built on a Ponce de Leon Mall out-parcel, close to U.S. 1 South. “I remember watching the original mall being built”, Bunch told us.

According to a report published by Dun and Bradstreet, “Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37% chance of surviving four years and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years.” Of course, Sears is a brand that has been around for over a hundred years and in St. Augustine since 1946, Bunch says.

Locally, we only had a Sears “catalog store” until the mall out-parcel store was built in 1979. That year, the original store on St. George Street was closed. With the relocation to U.S. 1 South came the addition of two automotive service bays.

In December of 1994, Bunch closed the service bays and moved the Hometown Store concept to his former location in the Winn-Dixie Plaza at S.R. 207 and Ponce de Leon Boulevard — where he remained for the last fifteen years.

Bunch says his new Sears Hometown Store will be the best yet. He told us that he is optimistic about John W. Gibson and Hull, Storey, Gibson Companies’ management of the Ponce de Leon Mall.

The Sears store is located in the front, center mall entrance in the space first occupied in 1981 by Walgreens. Although Sears is open for business now, Bunch has plans for a grand re-opening event in the next month or two.

Photo credit: © 2010 Historic City News staff photograph