It’s like a stripped-down Sears: Aisle after aisle of washing machines, refrigerators and ovens from well-known manufacturers like Kenmore and GE.

The difference is, this store is expected to remain open long after the Sears at Valley Plaza mall closes in a few months.

Sears Outlet, which opened in early 2014 on White Lane a few blocks east of Highway 99, is owned and run independently of the Sears department store chain that on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

There are uncanny similarities, however, such as the product warranties it offers under the Sears name. Also, its product lineup is much like what shoppers might expect to find in a conventional Sears: tool chests, dishwashers, sofas, beds, home goods, grills and clothing.

One distinction would be the prices: Throughout the 40,000-square-foot store Tuesday were signs indicating reconditioned, discontinued, dented or overstocked products on the sales floor were discounted 40 percent and 50 percent off, putting them well below manufacturers' suggested retail prices.

The result seems to endear customers.

"It doesn’t have a lot, the way Sears does, but what it does have is for sale at reasonable prices,” said Bakersfield resident Caro Ontiveros.

Shopper Carmen Alvarez, who left Tuesday morning without finding the blender she was looking for, nevertheless reported having a good experience at the outlet.

"They're good prices," the Bakersfield resident said. "It's a little different (from regular Sears stores), but it's fine."

Based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores Inc. separated from the better-known national retail company in 2012. It now has more than 750 locations in 49 states, including stores run by independent dealers and franchisees.

The company continues to have business relationships with Sears Holdings Corp., owner of Kmart and Sears department stores, also based in Hoffman Estates. If the national retailer were to close altogether, as opposed to the downsizing announced Monday, there is a likelihood the outlet chain would be affected.

But the outlet company's independence offers at least some assurance that downsizing at Sears won't leave Bakersfield consumers without access to the products and services customers many have come to depend on.

A note on the outlet company's website emphasizes it is not part of Sears' bankruptcy case:

"It remains business as usual at Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores," the statement reads. "We look forward to continuing to provide you with outstanding service, value and convenience."

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

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