BROOKSVILLE - Sears is coming to the city of Brooksville.
The retailer plans to open one of its smaller Sears Hometown Stores at U.S. 41 and State Road 50, in the long-vacated Publix grocery store at 19410 Cortez Blvd., in the Brooksville Square Plaza. Barring any obstacles, it could open by year's end.
Sears has some 900 hometown stores across the nation, including in Zephyrhills, Inverness, Wesley Chapel and Dade City.
These are essentially smaller versions of the full-size Sears Department Stores. Each is locally owned and operated and carries appliances, electronics, tools, lawn and garden equipment and mattresses.
Major brands, including Sears' own Kenmore, will be sold in the store. Customers can order products online or in-store and arrange to have items delivered to their homes.
Brooksville Vice Mayor Kevin Hohn said the new Sears Hometown Store will reinvigorate that shopping center and bring jobs to the city.
"We're certainly excited that they're coming," he said. "Anything we can do to help them get up and running, we're 100 percent behind them. Hopefully, that can become an anchor store that attracts other businesses."
Hohn said he'd like to see more businesses locate in downtown Brooksville. The economy is picking up, he said, though it would be better if the tax base were even lower.
"That's something we're going to work on," Hohn added.
Beverly Smith, manager of Springleaf Financial Services, said she and her staff recently moved out of Brooksville Square to the Coastal Way Shopping Center at Mariner Boulevard and State Road 50 because there is more customer traffic. That is also the location of Hernando County's only full-service Sears Department Store.
Smith said she is excited for the tenants at her former site.
"I think it's going to be great for the current open businesses," she said.
Mayor Lara Bradburn said she is "tickled pink" about Sears.
"They were extremely taken, in a positive way, with how our staff was and the nice charm of our city," she said. "They think all those things are good for business."
v vIn other Brooksville business news: It didn't take long for a tenant to lay claim to the vacant Arby's restaurant that closed last month at 843 S. Broad St.
New Orleans-based Popeyes is in the process of obtaining a permit to renovate and open at the downtown site.
The fast-food chicken chain is known for its New Orleans-style menu that features spicy chicken, chicken tenders, fried shrimp and other seafood, jambalaya, red beans and rice and other regional items.