OAKHURST – Sears Hometown Store owner Dwan Foster announced that she has sold the business and the building, and Saturday, May 2, will be Dwan’s last day as the owner/operator of Oakhurst’s Sears store.
“After 18 years as a Sears Hometown Store owner, I am saying goodbye,” says Foster. “Doug Roelle and his company have purchased my store and will continue operations Sunday, May 3.”
Foster and husband Ron moved from Visalia nearly two decades ago, purchased the land, built the store, and raised two sons among the lawn tractors, washers, and other goods that Sears has faithfully stocked since the Fosters opened the doors back then.
Partners in business and life, the Fosters were also deeply involved in the community. Ron was President of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce and the Community Center. The kids, Brad and Jeff, went to local schools, and the family was well-known throughout the town. Ron passed away suddenly in 2012 when younger son Jeff was still in high school. That was a game-changer.
After years of dedicating herself to the store on weekends, holidays, and every day in between, Dwan Foster is excitedly looking forward to the future.
“I want to thank all of my family, employees, friends, business associates, acquaintances and customers for all of their support and business over the years,” says Foster. “Ron and I moved here in 1997 to open this business and raise a family. Oakhurst and the mountain community have been very good to us and the boys, and I sincerely appreciate all that has been blessed upon us.”
Dwan is a registered nurse who gave up that career when the store began growing and she wanted to be close for her family. There was Boy Scouts and Kiwanis, music, sports, and always, Sears.
Foster struggled sometimes to carry the torch; times were often challenging financially and emotionally. Following Ron’s death, Foster concentrated on maintaining stability for herself and her kids. She wanted to keep things as normal as possible considering the circumstances. Now, another game-changer; but the difference is, Foster is in control this time.
Older son Brad is set to graduate from the California Maritime Academy, poised to become a Naval Flight Officer. He will marry Beth Lafata of Mariposa this June. Lafata will graduate from Fresno State next month, and Foster is thrilled. Jeff Foster is comfortably ensconced at Cal Poly with a major in Physics. The boys are grown, and while the whole family has worked together every holiday all these years, the Foster matriarch is really excited about having holidays and weekends free from retail.
Foster will stay in Oakhurst. She has lots of energy and plans to get back to work on her property and finish up some long-put-off projects around the house. She loves her home and the mountain community, and plans to pursue employment once she has time to catch her breath.
She’s pretty fired up, but Saturday will be sad, admits Foster, with mixed emotions.
“This community has been so supportive; anything we’ve needed has been there for us. It’s been so great, getting to meet all the different people, being able to help people, and knowing that we could give people employment. It’s just been about the people.”
Foster especially thanks her employees, past and present: Richard Wilson, Jason Smith, George Valverde, Russel Barton, Gary Brown, Yolanda Smith, Chris Hubbs, and Devon Biddle.
“Please continue to shop locally, and to support our businesses and neighbors,” reminds Dwan. The incoming owner/operator knows Sears Hometown Stores well — he already owns stores in Madera, Turlock and elsewhere, and is said to be relocating to Madera County with the Oakhurst Sears Hometown Store foremost in his plans.
Foster says everyone is coming home to say goodbye this weekend, including her kids, her sister, and her friends who will escort her out of the store at 6 p.m. when the big change occurs.
First, however, the long-time community member has decided on a great way to go out gracefully: at precisely 5:59 p.m. she’ll pull a ticket and announce the winner of a special drawing for a barbeque. Stop by Sears before then to fill out an entry form, and say hello and see-you-soon to Dwan Foster.
One last comment from Foster?
“It’s been a wild ride.”