Kyle Gengler knows he is starting his job at a busy time.
Not only is the Dickinson retail business booming, the holidays just happen to be right around the corner.
Last Tuesday morning, shortly after opening at 9 a.m., customers and looky loos started trickling in to the new Sears location in the T-Rex Plaza. Some shopped for tools — the people who knew exactly what they needed — while others browsed appliances and sale items.
“I’m already sitting here and gearing up for next week,” Gengler said as he sat behind the store’s computer, taking a break in between customer questions and shoring up his delivery driver’s morning itinerary.
Gengler is the new manager of Sears, which relocated to the T-Rex Plaza earlier this fall. The store is now owned by Gengler’s stepfather, Dale Keck.
Gengler said when Keck found out the Sears Hometown Store — an independently owned and operated type of Sears store found in smaller communities like Dickinson — was for sale, he wanted to buy it. But there was only one condition.
“As long as I came along with the package, he was good to go,” Gengler said with a smile.
Sales and the appliance business come naturally to Gengler. He worked at Fleck’s Furniture and Appliance in Dickinson “off and on” since 2008.
“It’s something I know really well, and I love the customers,” he said. “I like working with customers. It’s just something I’m really good at.”
Gengler said from his short experience with Sears, he can already tell most customers know what they’re looking to buy.
“You’ve got your Kenmore and Craftsmen,” Gengler said of the well-known appliances and tools made by companies that Sears owns and sells.
He said the Department of Motor Vehicles down the hall has created a lot of foot traffi c. “New people, they’ve got to get their vehicle licensed or whatever and then they come over here just to look around,” Gengler said. “That’s actually where 50 percent of the tool sales come from — just people walking around.”
Other tool buyers, he said, are oilfield or construction workers looking for replacement tools.
On the appliance side, Gengler smiled and said it’s “really hard to fail in that department,” especially considering Dickinson’s rapid growth and building of homes.
“As long as you’re able to get in there and get the customer service, and you have a little bit of knowledge in it, you’re able to succeed,” he said.
Keck took ownership on Nov. 9 after several years working in construction. He’s more than willing to let Gengler run the store while he acts as a maintenance man, storage room organizer, and go-fer, while also paying the bills.
“He knows the ups and downs and I don’t know everything about it,” Keck said with a laugh.”
Keck said the store is still waiting to have its grand opening, which will likely happen in January.
“It’s kind of crunched right now,” he said. “If we put that in there yet, it’ll be a little bit much.”
Until then, the door is obviously still open.
The store’s new space on the south end of the T-Rex Plaza even has a noticeably brighter look and more open feel than its old stand-alone facility west of the Prairie Hills Mall. But Gengler said the store still has a long way to go before it’s up to his and Sears’ standards.
“It’s still a work in progress,” he said. “We’re going to be painting and stuff like that. Once we get done painting, then we’re going to rearrange quite a bit of stuff and get it to where it’s supposed to be.”
Though Sears is located off Third Avenue West — Dickinson’s main north-south thoroughfare — it being tucked into a corner of the T-Rex Plaza has confused some longtime customers. Gengler said Sears gets as many as five calls a day asking where they’re located.
Advertising their new location has helped, he said.
“It’s kind of tough for people to see us,” he said.
Staffing has, surprisingly, not been much of an issue, Gengler said.
“I have family,” he said with a laugh.
Tonya Jo Keck, his sister-in-law, was training and working the fl oor on Tuesday. She just started working at Sears in time for the holidays. She used to work at the My Place hotel. Before that, she was a stay-at-home mom.
“I like the hours I work,” she said. “I like it when somebody is not breathing over my neck. Train me in and send me on my way.” After another crew member joins Sears in December, Gengler said the store will be fully staffed and ready for the holiday rush. “I’m already dreading the fact that I’m not going to see my bed as often as I do now,” Gengler said with a laugh.