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CALIFORNIA | Chain Reaction | HEARD ON THE BEAT / RETAILING

Discounters Are Tapping the Urban Marketplace : Sears Reaches Out

November 05, 1996|GEORGE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Encouraged by its success in and around Los Angeles, Sears opened five more stores in the county over the weekend, bringing its total to 31.

Sears decided to expand its presence because its 26 stores in the county produced sales of more than $1 billion last year--more revenue than any other company sales district in the country.

Much of that success stems from the company's appeal to Latinos, Asian Americans and African Americans, Sears Chairman Arthur Martinez said. Martinez visited some of the new stores--former Broadway sites in Long Beach, West Covina, Downey, Whittier and Canoga Park--over the weekend.

"We'll be focusing even more on ethnic consumers in the Los Angeles area," Martinez said. "We'll be presenting more merchandise that's right for ethnic customers. Understanding the nuances of that market is a key to our success."

Martinez said Sears has broadened its appeal to the Southland's diverse communities by including clothing in smaller sizes for Asian women and by acquiring a broader range of colors in its apparel section to satisfy Latino customers.

The company this year began to stock many of its stores with African Village, a line of clothing inspired by styles, prints and patterns popular in Africa. Sears executives said they will expand their African Village inventory for African American consumers this holiday season.

Times staff writer George White can be reached via fax at (213) 237-7837.

Wednesday: Energy

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