Sears moving to Riverside Plaza |

Sears moving to Riverside Plaza

Store’s shift is part of businesses’ westward drift

Mike Lawrence

Sears employee Yarrow Barron packs items in the store's warehouse on Shield Drive. The store closes Tuesday and will be open Jan. 13 in Riverside Plaza while the move is under way. Co-owner Lisa Mahanna said the move to Riverside will be complete Jan. 14.
John F. Russell

— The upcoming move of Steamboat's Sears from Shield Drive to Riverside Plaza will continue a trend of business-related changes and growth on the west side of the city.

Thaine and Lisa Mahanna have co-owned the local Sears home appliance store for about three years. Lisa Mahanna said Monday that they would close the Shield Drive location Tuesday and open the next day a few doors down from Pisa's Pizza and Pasta, a location that will make Sears' main entrance and sign visible from U.S. Highway 40.

Lisa Mahanna said the new Sears would be open while moving Jan. 13 and fully moved by Jan. 14. The new location will have a smaller showroom than the current store but a larger warehouse for keeping items in stock, she said.

She said rent prices and declining sales are factors in the move.

"Definitely, cost is a part of it," Mahanna said. "There's definitely been a decrease (in sales over the past year), just like everybody else."

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She also said she and Thaine have talked with other Riverside business owners — such as Steamboat Powersports' Michael Graves, who will be the Mahannas' new landlord — about generating interest in the plaza as a whole.

"Being able to advertise with other businesses over there and do group functions is a big reason why we're moving," she said.

Graves could not be reached Monday. Although Sears' current Shield Drive location is already in West Steamboat, moving farther west makes sense to Lisa Mahanna.

"The trend is going toward the west," she said about the local business community. "There's nowhere else to go on the other side of town … so everything is moving this way."

Local restaurateur Rex Brice said last week that he plans to open Little House, a grab-and-go breakfast spot and espresso bar, adjacent to his Big House restaurant in Curve Plaza next month. Sharon Stone of Sharon's at Pisa's said her breakfast restaurant is doing well since opening in April. West Steamboat businesses got a boost in clientele when the new Routt County Justice Center opened on Shield Drive in late 2007.

Stephen Caragol manages Outback Investments, which owns the 1855 Shield Drive building that houses Sears and the adjacent Interiors with Altitude. Caragol said Monday that the 8,500-square-foot Sears building has been up for lease for about a month and has generated "a reasonable level of interest."

Caragol listed a range of uses that could make sense for the location.

"Another retail outlet or another store — it can easily be reconfigured into office (use), but probably the best use with that side of town … could either be a small grocery store or even a restaurant," he said.

Caragol also said a design center use could provide synergy with Interiors with Altitude, a tile and carpet store. Caragol said he's talking with a potential tenant about that idea.

"We're looking for tenants that want to participate in that concept," he said. Those interested in the Sears space can call Caragol at 970-871-7934.

He said a westward trend for businesses is "definitely the case."

"It seems like the west side of town is kind of a happening place now — part of the reason why is the traffic and drive to the other side of town," Caragol said. "It takes 10 minutes to drive from 7-Eleven to Walmart. … It didn't used to."

Caragol noted that the westward growth is not just related to business.

"The growth in the town housing-wise is definitely on the west side of town, too," he said. "It's a different place than it was three years ago."

On March 9, a citywide mail-only election will decide the fate of Steamboat 700, a proposed annexation that could bring 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space to 487 acres just west of current city limits.

Lisa Mahanna said she and Thaine considered Steamboat 700 when planning the move for Sears but think they'll have a strong customer base regardless of the vote's outcome.

"I think Steamboat 700, if it happens, it would definitely be a boost for us. If it doesn't happen, I still think that's the growth of the town," she said. "It may or may not happen, but we still think the growth of the town is that way."

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail