A year ago Mr. Costello, 60, was named co-president of Pay By Touch, a privately held, fingerprint-based payment system. He said he left that company, where he was vice chairman (and remains an adviser), and has joined hearing-aid marketer Zounds.
Transform the category
"Zounds technology has the potential to transform the multibillion-dollar hearing category similar to what LensCrafters did in optical, with breakthrough technology, an exceptional value and unique retail store-based sales approach," he said, calling the stores "the most exciting retail concept I'd seen in the last 10 years."
Zounds has seven stores in locations including St. Louis, Phoenix and King of Prussia, Pa., near Philadelphia. Design in the stores is high-tech and sleek, resembling those of high-end audio retailer Bose, Mr. Costello said. In addition to offering hearing tests and fittings, the stores have a room designed like a noisy restaurant so customers can test equipment.
Mr. Costello said he was drawn to Zounds because "there aren't too many times where you have an opportunity to help people."
Zounds was founded in Mesa, Ariz., by an engineer whose daughter had hearing loss. The devices are priced at less than $2,000, compared with $5,000 for comparable products, Mr. Costello said.
Under Mr. Costello, Sears introduced women's and other clothing lines with the tagline "Come See the Softer Side of Sears." At Home Depot, he launched the "You Can Do It. We Can Help" campaign, which still is running today. Currently, Zounds has been using the tagline "Don't get mad. Get hearing."
He declined comment on the retailer's ad budget.