John Jamison’s affiliation with Sears ends around noon Saturday when he turns over the ownership of the Sears Hometown Store to someone else. Talk about the end of an era.
John Jamison’s affiliation with Sears ends around noon Saturday when he turns over the ownership of the Sears Hometown Store to someone else.
Talk about the end of an era.
“I started with Sears 48 years and four months ago, and it wasn’t my first job,” Jamison said.
That was 1966, and he started with the Kansas City mail order house as a buyer in the tool department.
That was long before computers, so he kept track of inventory on cards and paper, checking what was in the warehouse, how much had been sold, what the sales forecast indicated for direct mail customers and stores in nine states.
After six years, he said, “I began traveling. I spent nine years traveling for Sears and the last three years of that, I was based in Fort Collins, Colo., serving the western Rocky Mountain states.”
“We moved to Rolla in 1981,” Jamison said. He took over the local Sears store. “It was a company catalog store until 1991 when it converted to a privately owned store, a retail dealer store.”
He has sold lots of Kenmore appliances and lots of Craftsman tools over the years, and though that is important, it is not what is most important to Jamison.
“The key thing is the people I’ve worked with,” Jamison said.
There have been the customers.
“I made a tremendous number of friends,” Jamison said of his customers. “They’ve been a great bunch of people. A lot of them have come and gone. I’ve seen several of them pass.”
Jamison said he was always treated well by his customers, and “I tried to do the same with my customers, treating them the way I would want to be treated.”
Another group of people important to him have been the numerous UMR/MST students who have worked for him over the years. Many of them have stayed in contact with him, even stopping in for visits when they returned to Rolla for various reasons.
“It is neat to have been a part of their lives,” he said.
And the third group of people he holds dear are his employees, particularly his current employees.
“They have all been given the opportunity to go with the new owner,” he said.
Aside from the university students, most of his employees have been long-term, Jamison said. “We’ve had very little turnover.”
Jamison becomes “turnover” today.
“Saturday is my last day,” he said.
The new owner is Demea Loyd, who owns the Washington store.
“She has a 15-year relationship with Sears,” Jamison said. “She is going to operate the Washington and Rolla stores.”
The store will remain at 1070 S. Bishop Ave. briefly.
“The new Sears store will open June 28 in the new location right behind JCPenney,” he said. “There will be no break in service.”
Jamison said a 12,000-square foot building has been renovated into the “store of the future.”
The Rolla Sears store has been in what is now the Fairgrounds Auto Plaza where Jamison said one wall of the Sears store remains following a massive renovation at the dealership.
It has also been in Southside Shoppers World in the corner, just across the way from JCPenney.
Jamison’s building is down the street from that site.
The new store will be behind JCPenney, so over the years, Sears has been in the same general vicinity with the exception of the time it was on Kingshighway.
“My building is going to become a medical facility,” Jamison said. “I sold it to a doctor who is putting his clinic in that location.”
Rolla has been a stable business community, Jamison said.
“I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done. I have liked going to work every morning.
Jamison said he and his wife, Jeanne, will stay in Rolla. They have three children. Daughter Julie and son Jeff both returned to Colorado. Son Jeremy lives in Rolla.
The Jamisons will continue to be involved in the work of First Baptist Church, an important institution in their lives. Their involvement, in fact, will likely expand, and they might look for other ways to minister to people.
But business involvement is over, he said.
“It’s time for me, at age 72, to let someone else shoulder the responsibility.”