Belen’s Sears store wins national award

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Customer service is the name of the game at the Belen Sears Hometown Store, at least that’s what the plaques say.

Store owners Ron and Norma Richard recently received their fourth “Sears Hometown Premier Store” award for consistently offering the highest levels of customer service, outstanding store performance and standards.

Janis Marston-News-Bulletin photo: Owners Ron and Norma Richard stress customer service at their Belen Sears Hometown Store on N.M. 314.

It was one of 42 locations — representing only 3 percent of all the stores — across the United States to receive the national recognition for the past quarter, which ended in June, according to a Sears press release.

Richard said the local store is on target to get the award for this quarter as well.

“To be honored as a Premier Store is a great achievement, not only for our store, but also for the community we strive to serve everyday,” Richard said in a press release about the award. “We could not have earned this without the support of our community, and we want to thank our customers for shopping with us throughout the year.”

Richard and his wife, Norma, who live in Albuquerque, have owned the store for eight years. He retired as a Sears district manager in Albuquerque with 35 years with the company to run the store.

“We’re a small operation,” Richard said of the five-person staff, including manager and Belen native J.T. Edmonds.

But customer service is of utmost importance, Richard said, “especially when you think about all the bad experiences you’ve had.”

Compared to large, warehouse stores where help is often hard to find, Richard said, “I don’t want anyone to walk into the store five feet and we not say ‘hello.’”

The store’s showroom is packed with appliances, large and small, lawn and garden equipment and Craftsman tools. There are also Serta Sleeper mattress sets, Nordic Track workout equipment and patio furniture on display.

Customers can order anything Sears sells.

“We can sell anything the Albuquerque Sears does,” he said, adding, “We’ll try to get you the best price.”

At-home Internet orders have taken a bite in his sales.

“We prefer that people order through the store, to help keep our doors open,” he said.

If someone comes in to pick up an order they’ve made from home, he said he usually tells them, “next time, come into the store or call.”

On some items, he added, “I can even save you money.”

For example, some items he has in stock can be sold for less than online or, Richard said, he might know of an upcoming sale if the customer can wait.

Belen’s Sears, located at 19554 N.M. 314, is the only Sears in Valencia County. It is one of 1,236 hometown stores in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

The company’s hometown store concept combines the selection and services associated with larger retail stores but are owned and operated locally, the press release states.