Sears is also experimenting with smaller, appliance-focused stores that give it a way to keep a presence in markets where it has closed traditional stores or enter growing communities where it hasn't had a presence.
The first opened in Fort Collins, Colo., in 2016. Since then, three more have opened, also stocking mattresses. Sears also has been experimenting with a slightly broader product selection.
"When people see Sears on the door, they expect to be able to see some things, like Craftsman (tools)," Schwartz said.
Sears "definitely sees them as an expansion opportunity" but also wants to take the time to learn from the early stores, he said.
Sears' slide from the top spot means it has the "biggest target on its back" among companies looking to increase major appliance sales, like J.C. Penney, said Hoyler, of Euromonitor.
But while he says Penney's push to win sales from Sears is likely a smart call in the short term, he's skeptical consumers will abandon the big-box chains and go back to buying washers and dryers at the mall.
"I don't think this is going to be the magic bullet that saves department stores," Hoyler said.
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