Last year, Sears Holdings announced that it would begin looking for new ways to extract money from its best-known store brands: Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard. So far, its efforts have included Kenmore televisions, DieHard tires, and selling the entire Craftsman brand. Now it’s lending the DieHard name to a new version of its Auto Center.
What’s unusual about this store, other than the brand, is that it’s not connected to a Sears store. It’s not even near a Sears store. The store was previously a Meineke franchisee called Kwik Kar Lube and Auto Center.
The DieHard Auto Center is an experiment for Sears: It will find out how recognizable the brand is on its own, and how well a standalone auto repair shop can do, selling DieHard car parts and accessories.
The store offers all of the services you’d expect to find at a Sears Auto except alignment. It also has something called a “Digital Tire Journey,” which is a computer with a keyboard and mouse and a huge screen under a wall of tires.
Sears Automotive president Brian Kaner told Automotive News that the test store came into existence in San Antonio because the local Sears and its attached Auto Center closed.
Reading between the lines a bit, it sounds like the car repair business was still thriving but had to close along with its companion Sears store, so taking that customer base to an old Meineke seemed like a worthwhile experiment.
The store’s official name is DieHard Auto Center Driven by Sears, and its explicit goal is to test the strength of the DieHard brand name and move some batteries and tires.
“The new DieHard Auto Center Driven by Sears is another example of how we’re unleashing the power of the DieHard brand,” Sears Auto president Kaner said in a statement. Will consumers care about the DieHard brand, or will people just stop by for a quick oil change because it’s a car repair place in a convenient place?