"Thank you for calling Sears. This is Donna." That's how Donna Purvis answered the phone early Monday morning.
What she didn't say to the caller is that the store is closing after 14 years. A specific closing day hasn't been announced.
She did say, as customers walked quietly past empty shelves and home appliances marked "SOLD," that the Sears Hometown store on Ribaut Road in Port Royal does not sell televisions and she also reminded customers that all sales are final.
"Closing down, huh?" a customer asked as he looked around.
"Yes, sir," another employee responded.
"Moving somewhere else?" asked the customer.
"No, just closing," the employee said.
It's the "hometown" half of the name that sets the store apart from the average Sears. It and stores like it are smaller — one of 13 across South Carolina — and provide a more intimate community atmosphere to employees and customers alike, the company says.
Sears characterizes such stores as independently owned and operated by people who don't work for the company. The Port Royal location opened in November 2004.
The store announced its closing on social media last week with the classic line, "Everything must go."
While an official closing date has not been announced, the store urged customers to make their last rounds from June 8 to July 23.
Local residents responded to the announcement by tagging their friends and family and encouraged them to "go check out chest freezer prices" or "see if they have lawn mowers."
Sears announced last week that up to 100 of its 882 Hometown stores will be closing after the company suffered a $9.4 million loss in its first quarter, MarketWatch reported on Saturday.
For stores open at least a year, sales dropped 10.5% in the first quarter and about 20 stores closed. the company reported.
"We will continue to actively seek to work with the owners of these unproductive stores to exit the business should they determine that is also in their best interest," said Will Powell, CEO of Sears Hometown and Outlet said. He also said proceeds from the liquidation of stores like this one will be used to pay off the debt.
Jason Baxley, the manager of the Port Royal store, did not return an email seeking comment.