Wednesday, April 24, 2024

15th Year Anniversary Post #500 Sears Deerbook Mall Humble Texas closed in Spring 2020

Today also marks the 15th anniversary of the blog. I am a little late this evening getting this post out, but here it goes. 
Thank you to all of the blog supporters who have kept the blog going over the years. Your comments, updates, and article contributions are very much appreciated. As many of you know, I am running out of ideas that I would like to pursue for the blog. The demise of so many retail favorites over the years has left the well dry. There are still a few malls out there that I would like to cover for the blog that we will have to travel to see. In the meantime, I still have some great articles in my backlog and a couple of local malls that will get updates in 2024 including my impromptu Macroplaza Mall video visit from this week. The mall has declined to the point that it may close any day now. 

Now for the long-awaited finale of the Deerbrook Mall Sears, store #1417. This was my Sears store for well over 30 years. This store opened with Deerbrook Mall on July 18, 1984, and was the last remaining original anchor at the mall. The store is listed at either 137,990 or 139,578 square feet of retail space (two conflicting loopnet listings) on 2-levels. Sears closed during the Covid pandemic in either mid-March or early April in 2020. The exact date is unknown at this time due to when the Covid restrictions forced Sears to close off this store. If you know the exact date of closing, please comment below. My last visit was on March 10, 2020, and at the time the store was scheduled to close in early April. Malls closed statewide starting March 18, 2020, and did not officially reopen until May 1, 2020. Sears closed well before the May 1st reopening of Deerbrook Mall. Either way, this was the closest Sears store to me for many years. At one point, all of our appliances except for one, and three of our televisions came from Sears. Over the years, we have since upgraded most of our Sears purchases from other retailers. Of course, we bought a variety of tools over the years that will more than likely last through generations.  

As of the publishing of this article on April 25, 2024, only a handful of US stores remain open. 

Burbank California (reopened October 22,2023)
Concord California
Stockton California
Whittier California
Coral Gables Florida
Orlando Florida
Braintree Massachusetts
San Juan Puerto Rico
El Paso Texas
Tukwila Washington
Union Gap Washington (reopened November 6, 2023)

Bridgehampton New York #9423
Miami Florida #3074 (Downsized March 2023)
Tamuning Guam #7705 (Open 24 hours)
St. Croix #7413 Sunny Isles Shopping Center
 St. Thomas store #3829 TuTu Park Mall
St. Thomas store #7793 Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center

Now back to the Sears store at hand. I really began documenting this store heavily as it became apparent that Sears wasn't going to last much longer. Some of these photos have already been posted on this blog, but the majority of them have not. I hope everyone enjoys this long-winded post and we can enjoy this look back at Sears. 

Exterior in 2010


February 2018
I guess you can say this was when the store was still doing good. 

The electronics department was consolidated into this small area in the back corner of the store. The electronics department previously took up nearly the entire back wall of the store.

May 2018
Look at the sale for SYW members. I took advantage of these sales to accumulate tools, clothes, and home goods.

At this point, the store was still well stocked. 

Spend $40 and get $20 in points free. This was an excellent deal, and the deals would change monthly. 

A look at the reduced electronics department. The remaining electronics were moved to this quiet back corner of the store. As we all know, Sears had given up on their electronics departments at this point. 

Wow, that melted plug could have become a major issue for the store if that had gotten out of hand.

How did this photo get in here? Sneaky look at the Dillard's record section at Deerbrook Mall.

December 2018
Really wish I could have gotten my hands on one of those 125-year anniversary signs. 

Kmart branded tarp.

The short-lived toy department reboot. Just as in years past, the toy departments came and went.

Another Kmart item.

Monty Mongoose, the toy department mascot.

Too bad I was never able to score one of these signs. The best I could do was acquire a few of the shopping bags.

Another toy department display.

The mall entrance.

Sporting goods had spilled into the former electronics department display.

Once Sears sold off their Craftsman brand, we all knew it was over.

More views from around the store.

The 2018 Christmas display was a lot larger than the 2019 display as you will see below. 

I really miss seeing this store lit up at night. The Sears logo is long-gone, and the building is mostly dark now.

We are still in December 2018, but on a different visit.

More views from around the store.

Spend $50, get $50. One of their better sales. 

For some reason, they always blocked off the auto center products after auto center business hours. 

As of 2023, Deerbrook Mall still had the same Christmas decorations you see here.

November 2019
Fast-forward to almost a year later. The stock in the store was really beginning to empty out. The Christmas display was not nearly as full as the year before. Little did we know at this point that the store was going to start closing soon.

The entire toy department was on clearance. 

You can see just how much the toy department shrank.

The electronics department was down to just a few small shelves.

December 2019

Now many stores begin to empty out during the holiday season, but you could tell that no more stock was coming in anymore.

The final items from the toy department on the wall.

The tools were really beginning to look bad at this point.

The Christmas department was already on clearance.

The short-lived Parts Direct counter.

Electronics department again.

Housewares department.

The shop your way point deals were blank throughout the store.

The store was staying open later than the mall for Christmas shoppers.

Final day of normal business. Wednesday February 5th, 2020. Get ready because this will be the longest portion of the post. I knew this would be my last chance to photograph the store before everything changed forever. 

We start on the first floor at the East entrance.

The South entrance by the auto center is in the far middle of this photo.

This area of the store featured kids clothing.

The old school Key shop and Optical.

The Auto Center.

Sears Optical closed prior to this visit.

Venturing from the kids clothing, we have the jewelry counter.

Colognes, perfumes, and watches were also in this section of the store.

Women's Clothing and Shoes round out the first level of the store.

Now we will hop into the store elevator.

We pop out into the housewares department.

Mattresses were spilling out into the former housewares department.

The signage in the housewares department was looking really worn out at this point.

Missing tiles in this corner of the store.

The front wall of the store with the mall space on the other side of the wall. This corner of the store always seemed to be the quietest part of the store.

Backpacks had been randomly stocked in this section of the store. This center area of the store on the second floor seemed to be an overstock area in the last years of business. If anyone remembers, Sears/Kmart had gotten into the closeout business just before their bankruptcy. 

More worn out signage.

Little by little, the shelving units had been coming down over the years. Several stores had even closed off portions of the store to store the unused racks.

Luggage has always been kind of an afterthought in the store. They moved around their selection often.

Moving on.

Electronic housewares, this area was another section of the store that had aisles. The stacks of boxed products on the floor had been taking over spaces that were previously filled with aisles. In the few Sears/Kmart stores open in 2024, we can see the floor displays have taken over many stores. 

The escalator area had a nice illuminated skylight.

Here are the remaining electronics.

And that is it. 👀
As you can see from the rest of this corner of the store, a lot of the big box items were placed here. 

The driving school was down this corridor to the right and the bathrooms to the left.

Appliances and mattresses.

Former Parts Direct counter

More of the appliances and mattresses. The back wall of the store was formerly the massive electronics department.

The back wall of the store had recently been painted to cover up the electronic name brands posted all over the place.

Some of the new signage.

Refrigerator parts and filters.

The checkout counter was pretty much the only leftover from the electronics department that used to be here.

They did a pretty good job of refreshing this area of the store once they moved out the electronics.

Even the older section of the appliance department had new paint and signage.

Now let's move over to the tool and sporting goods area of the store.

Products were stretched out pretty thinly now. 

Sporting goods had also moved around over the years.

Diehard Battery rack.

Before the exercise equipment had been moved back here. Bicycles, table games, and team sport items had been back here. A lot of the former items back here had been phased out. 

The tool department was in the process of consolidation. 

Fixtures were being moved to shrink the tool department. 

You can see the dirty floors where fixtures sat for years.

Unfortunately, we never got to see the finished product.

Now for more tool department goodness.

More shelving was about to come down here as well.

More of the floor displays taking up space. This section was the toy department up until late 2019.

Although the aisles were going to be wider, the tool selection was drying up. As opposed to individual tool pieces, Sears has been transitioning to tool sets in their stores.

Right around the corner from the tools is the Men's department.

Mattresses near the escalator.

Now back to the tool department.

Craftsman tool displays have been filled with Workbrand tools. I would have to say these tools are not a bad alternative.

The Sears Marketplace in 2024 has some really weird stuff. You could find some deals back in the day with points and free shipping. I bought several retro Sears and Kmart logo t-shirts. They could probably make a lot of money if they brought back some of the retro logos for sale. 

Lawn and Garden. In 2019, Sears began eliminating this department, so the selection here was already bare.

Grills had been stretched out to take up space. 

More boxes to take up space. This was where the Christmas items were just a few weeks before.

More views from around the area.

A few odds and ends left over from the toy department.

We will backtrack through areas of the store that were previously photographed. 

Now we will walk down the main central aisle of the store. 

The mall entrance is just past the checkout.

This area of the store had the short-lived golf department. Men's clothing was expanded into this area once the golf department was cleared out.

I know you may be tired of seeing the tool department, but here it goes again.

Lawn and garden, again!

The West side second floor entrance with the package pickup door.

This should have been a popular option for Sears shoppers, but they didn't promote this option enough.

Now for one last look at the mall entrance to the store before things would change forever.

As we head down to the first floor, the changes are just beginning.

The first store closing signs in the process of going up. The sale officially started the following day.

The same entrance we used earlier now had the store closing signs in place.

February 15, 2020

Now the store closing sale was in full swing. Due to the fire truck at the East entrance, we elected to go into the mall first. 

Not much to talk about during this visit. Products were slowly but surely selling out.

Had to get a good view of the escalator skylight.

This sign probably should have been pulled a while back. 

As with all store closing sales, the deals were not too good at this point. A lot of items were on better sales before the liquidators took over. Always do your research before jumping into these sales.

The fixtures started coming out early. Usually, the fixtures don't come out until the final weeks of the sale. By day 9, they were already piling up.

One of the tricks that liquidators use to clear out the store faster is to clear out and consolidate sections of the store to make it look emptier. It adds pressure to buy now before things sell out. But as someone who visited this store a lot over the years, I know that the majority of products for sale had been sitting here for years. I also took advantage of the sales for SYW members to gain bonus points that were really good deals. These "deals" were terrible, but the masses will inevitably fall for these sales.

Key Shop

Baby department next to the key shop.

Auto Center.

Empty Optical department.

More views from around the store.

Views of the exterior at night.

February 25, 2020, 10 more days later and 19 days into the store closing sale.

Humble and Willowbrook closed at the same time. I visited Willowbrook on February 6, 2020, on the first official day of the store closing sale. That post will come out in the future.

What a difference 10 days makes.

Space is really beginning to open up all over the store.

I did my best to cover the areas of the store as close to my Feb 5 visit as possible. 

The back corner of the store where the electronics were located is already picked through.

One thing that I noticed at the Sears store closing sales is that the mattresses usually last until the last month. The mattresses that Sears carried were usually more expensive than you would expect to find at Sears. 

Compare these photos to my Feb 5 visit.

All of the clothing had been pulled off of the walls.

The hallway to the driving school. Trash can was there to catch water leak from the ceiling.

More of the former Parts Direct counter. This kiosk had a touch screen to look at the online website and select products.

Odds and ends for sale in the former Parts Direct area.

Another Sears career sign.

Sears management really fumbled the key brands that drew customers to their stores. Kenmore, Craftsman, and Diehard all had stellar reputations and were the brands that Sears had exclusive rights to. One-by-one, the exclusivity was sold off to competitors, further hurting Sears.  

At this point, large pockets of the store were emptying out.

We are going to pop out into the mall and back into the store.

The door to the backroom was open to peek inside. 

First floor fixtures now beginning to stack up as the shelving units come down.

Back upstairs to see a little bit more before we wrap up this trip.

I kind of regret not picking up a shopping cart. For $20 they were not a bad deal. I did eventually pick up a couple of shopping baskets from other stores closing. 

March 10, 2020. Final month of sale. My visit to the store while it was a Sears.

At this point, the Covid voluntary restrictions were beginning. The store was not very busy, not what you would normally see at this point in the store closing sale. I guess people were too busy fighting over toilet paper at this point to visit Sears. 

The store was really empty at this point. 

Even the wet floor signs had Sears logos.

Plenty of floor model mattresses still left.

Now let's go back downstairs.

A lot of clothing still left on the first floor. The walls had been cleared, but the racks were full.

Another peek into the backroom.

Sears stores still had the locksmiths on site.

The auto center closed and was cleared out. This was normal to see at the Sears closing sales. 

A few more shots of the empty kiosk where the optometrist was at.

Empty auto center. The few products left had been moved into the regular store to sell off.

The escalator signage. 

Little did we know at the time, but this would be our last visit to the Sears store as Covid restrictions closed off malls temporarily. It is unknown if Sears continued the store closing sale or if the store closed when the Covid restrictions were put into place. The store had approximately 30 days left before the scheduled closing date on this visit. This will not be the last Sears store we will cover though. Willowbrook, Macroplaza, and North Shepherd are still in the backlog. The remaining Sears stores closed throughout 2020 and into January of 2021 with Macroplaza being the final store to close.

I also have some video footage of this store that I will post at a later time on my youtube channel.

October 2020. Spirit Halloween opened to give us a final look into the anchor.

As you can see, the Sears signs were in the process of being pulled down.

Now for what I thought would be the last trip inside of the store. A 2020 Spirit Halloween pop-up shop.

Behind the scenes.

There were some really weird costumes prior to the 2020 election.

You can see some water damage in the ceiling if you look upstairs.

Now let's walk around the store. It was painfully noticeable at this point that the building is in poor shape.
The sidewalks are sinking around the store.

Water damage.

Old auto center entrance.

Airplane flying over, perfect timing.

The auto center signage looks terrible. Some of these signs are still up in 2024.

A look into the former tool and lawn and garden department. This is where Spirit set up shop in 2021 and 2022.

The sky was a perfect backdrop for this trip. The Sears signage was taken down shortly after this trip.

Even the sunset was spooky that day.

A few looks behind the temporary walls and curtains inside of the Spirit Halloween.

2020 was such a strange year. I am so glad that mess is over.

In 2021 and 2022 Spirit Halloween also opened up inside of the old Sears building but on the second floor. The Mall entrance was the only access to the store. The store set up shop roughly where the Men's clothing was located. I don't have any photos from this setup of the store unfortunately, but there was not much to see. 

Now for the bonus stuff. Sears fixtures and goodies from my personal collection. Everything but the polo shirt came from one of the Sears store closing sales that I personally visited. These items are not for sale or trade, sorry folks. 

I am not gonna lie, this article took a lot out of me. I am not sure what is up next, but please stay tuned.