DOWNERS GROVE – Although the Gilbert brothers looked forward to retirement, they quickly realized resting on their laurels was not for them.
On May 5, Mike, Rick and Dan Gilbert bought the recently franchised Sears Appliance and Hardware Store in Downers Grove. After renovation and overhaul, they will celebrate the location’s ceremonial grand opening Friday and Saturday at the store.
Last year, all three brothers had retired from their respective professions. The oldest, Mike Gilbert, 59, was the last to set sail into proverbial sunset after selling Integrated Filing Solutions – a manufacturing company he had built from the ground up.
Similarly, Rick Gilbert, 53, had just sold his office supply company and Dan Gilbert, 56, retired in 2010 as lieutenant after a 32-year career in the Downers Grove Fire Department.
But they agreed that something was missing.
“We kind of all just got bored. Retirement wasn’t for us,” Dan Gilbert said. “We finished the work around the house, cleaned the garage, did some yard work, then thought, ‘What now?’”
Opportunity reared its head in the form of a local Sears Appliance and Hardware Store.
In October 2012, the multinational mid-range department, appliance and hardware store chain announced the franchising of 1,237 locations, according to Sears’ third quarter SEC filings.
The next spring, the Gilbert brothers learned the Downers Grove Sears Appliance and Hardware Store at 925 Ogden Ave. would be part of the new franchise model.
Growing up at 4400 Elm St., just a few minutes from the Downers Grove store, the Gilberts had visited the hardware store thousands of times and the three describe themselves as “advanced hobbyists and handymen” who never have hired anyone to work on their homes.
“This is still a business, but the experience has been a lot of fun,” Rick Gilbert said. “We also all have a set of skills that aligns perfectly with this profession.”
Rick Gilbert will handle the operations, inventory and warehousing, Mike Gilbert will be responsible for finances and Dan Gilbert is in charge of human resources and sales.
While their store will benefit from the Sears name and brand appliances, the Gilberts are most excited about bringing a local face to a national model.
“People that come in are not just our customers, they are our neighbors, our friends,” Mike Gilbert said. “We want to help them and the entire Downers Grove community.”