West Coast Sears widens surplus stores

Sears, Roebuck's West Coast management is pushing an expanding experiment in merchandising--the Sears surplus store.Now in the 23 Western states, the giant catalog-retailer has opened 10 of these own-brand discount units.

According to regional spokeswoman Rita Ergas, this is a nationwide trend giving Sears a wider opportunity to liquidate its own broken size ranges in some soft lines and discontinued models in appliances.

"The sales volume itself at present," said Ms. Ergas, "is almost minuscule in percentage terms. But we feel the Sears surplus store idea has several advantages for the future. First, it offers low prices on perfectly good, new merchandise to customers in outlying areas where transportation is being restricted.

"In the Los Angeles district, for example, we have put stores in places like Norwalk and Huntington Beach--away from big-city shopping. Secondly, since almost all of our stocks carry Sears brand names as well as the Sears money-back guarantee, we feel this merchandise should continue to be offered for sale by Sears--not by a jobber who might not back it up."

Sears surplus stores, according to Ergas, have the advantage of separating "orphan" goods from the basic lines carried in retail stores and displayed in catalog pages. Because the surplus goods are isolated in these experimental stores, these can readily be reduced--as expounded in separate surplus store explanatory ads--as much as 60 percent from former prices without affecting regular stocks.

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