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Sears to test drive-through retailing concept in Illinois

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Sears is planning to open a warehouse-style concept store called MyGofer in the town of Joliet, Illinois that will allow shoppers to order online and pick up their purchases in the store or at a drive-through portal.

“The prototype, slated to open by this summer, is expected to fill a niche between Wal-Mart and Amazon.com and could provide a model for the giant retail chain to eventually operate with fewer stores and lower overhead,” reports the Chicago Tribune:

Sears officials declined to discuss MyGofer, beyond confirming a presentation to the Joliet City Council last month that described the test store as a “marriage between online shopping and bricks and mortar,” according to minutes of the meeting.

The goal is to attract online shoppers to a store where they can pick up merchandise without leaving their cars, Steve Sunderland, the Sears executive in charge of new store initiatives, told city officials, according to the minutes.

Sears plans to shutter an existing 85,000-square-foot Joliet Kmart on Feb. 15 and then begin work in March to turn the building into MyGofer. About 80 percent of the store will be devoted to storing merchandise. The remaining 20 percent will house a showroom in what one Joliet official described as a 21st Century version of Service Merchandise, the catalog showroom store popular in the 1970s and 1980s where stock was kept in a warehouse and shoppers picked up their purchases with a claim ticket.

“It’s a big, big opportunity to restructure the company,” said Love Goel, chief executive of Minneapolis-based Growth Ventures Group, a private-equity firm that invests in online retail. “You can get a lot more inventory in the store, and it’s much cheaper to operate because you don’t need as much lighting and staff. It’s a much more productive use of real estate.”

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