Jake Garza, owner of the newly opened Sears Hometown Store, located behind Luby’s at 2241 W. University Drive and Jackson Road, says he is proud to have settled in one of Texas’ All-America Cities.

Formerly a police officer who served the Del Rio community for 15 years, Garza said he chose Edinburg because of the city’s reputation and great school district for his two children.

“It was time to do something a little safer,” Garza said, “that would still provide a service to the community, but without me having to dodge bullets.”

Previously known as “Sears Authorized Retail Dealer Stores,” the nation-wide change of name to “Sears Hometown Stores” was to “better represent what we are to our customers — Sears in the neighborhood,” Garza said.

Sears Hometown Stores are independently-owned, smaller versions of the larger full-line Sears located, for example, in La Plaza Mall. There are more than 900 Sears Hometown Stores nationwide, selling home appliances, fitness, lawn and garden equipment and consumer electronic products. These items are sold in proprietary Sears’ brands, such as DieHard, Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliances, as well as a wide assortment of national brands.

“I had one foot into this,” Garza said, “when the economy really took a plunge, and I knew I could pull out or continue. This did not come without a price. It was very stressful to get where I am today, but I decided to move forward because opportunities like this only come once in a lifetime.”

When asked how he plans to compete with other stores such as the nearby Wal-Mart and Lowes stores, Garza is confident that the personal attention given by himself and his staff will make the difference.

“When you buy something from me,” Garza said, “you get me. In other words, if you have a problem, you don’t have to call some 1-800 number and listen to an answering machine. You call me and let me do the legwork for you. I like to personalize every encounter that I have with my customers because they’re not just customers to me. I want to make them friends.”

Jake Garza’s staff are more than employees; some are literally family. “These are people I know, love and trust dearly,” Garza said. “One is my cousin who came down from San Antonio to help. Another is the daughter of the pastor of my church who moved down to attend college here. Another is Frank Flores, a friend who brings a wealth of knowledge, particularly in the lawn and garden area because he has worked in retail for more than 13 years — 10 of those at another Sears.”

With the economic pinch being felt across the board, Garza points out that, for most people, purchasing appliances today is more of a sacrifice than in previous years.

“Appliances nowadays are investments,” Garza said. “If you’re going to put so much money into something, you want to know it’s going to work, and that it’s offered at the best price. That’s why we have our price match guarantee. Other than Kenmore, any other appliances on the market we carry or can get for you, we’ll match the price, plus give you ten percent of the difference. Another thing we have is our protection agreements, which are better than warrantees.”

To find out more about Sears, their products and protection agreements, visit their website at www.Sears.com.

“I want everyone to know we’re here,” Garza said. “Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.”