Sears: An Island Tradition For 69 Years

Jan Stallings of Sears says one of the company’s strengths is that so many local employees have worked for Sears for decades and they take pride in offering their neighbors great service.

Susan Sunderland
Wednesday - November 12, 2008
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Jan Stallings

For A Mainland Firm, Sears Sure Acts Like A Hawaii Company, Thanks To Many Longtime Employees

Jan Stallings, Sears district manager, is experiencing her first winter without snow. Could she also be experiencing a shiver of a different sort this season?

Highlighting a 32-year career with the nation’s giant retailer, Stallings moved from Colorado to Hawaii in February to take on new challenges and opportunities here. As Hawaii’s retailing landscape evolves and competition stiffens among the big players in the market, it will test her mettle as a manager and merchandiser.

Mark Asakura

Yet while she rides in on a wave of economic uncertainty, Stallings is buoyed with confidence and optimism. She bases that on the proud 69-year tradition that Sears has in the Islands.

Most business executives coming into our market don’t have that foundation on which to lavish ambitions. Not only does Sears Hawaii have a loyal customer base, it also has what could be its strongest arsenal - a district office staff with more than 220 years of experience in this market. Its knowledge of how Hawaii shops and how to accommodate customers’ needs in everything from home appliances to hair salons is unmatched in the Pacific.

Michael Wilson

We meet the eight-member management group in a lively discussion about retailing in the Sears district office. These are individuals behind the scenes at Sears whom customers don’t know, don’t see and don’t realize are the real retail Santas who make purchasing dreams come true.

Stallings, an Idaho native, introduces her dream team.

They are: Mark Asakura (38 years with Sears), merchandise manager for home appliances and electronics; Jean Ishikawa (36 years), advertising manager and merchandise manager for apparel; Calvin Kawakami (33 years), automotive merchandise manager.

Jean Ishikawa

Also, Peter Kurano (35 years), operations manager; Linda Ogata (35 years), buyer for men’s, kid’s and home fashions; Michael Wilson (13 years), merchandise manager for hardware, home and garden; and Susan Yasuda (35 years), buyer for ladies fashion, fine jewelry and footwear.

The work force of Sears statewide numbers 1,200 employees, many of whom have clocked up to five decades of service to the company. While there are seasonal fluctuations in personnel and attrition due to downsizing, it’s a tight-knit ohana from sales personnel to warehouse workers that make Sears tick, according to Yasuda.

Sears has been around a long time. It grew up with the Territory of Hawaii and expanded into an economic force in retailing with statehood in 1959. One can’t discuss Sears without waxing nostalgic about its presence here and how it grew

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