I became a man with a Sears catalog, or well, something, I became a something.
I’m very much a consumer level user of tools and come from a consumer level tool using household (although, a do-it-yourself one). That said, I think that Sears started loosing market share when they cut the quality control program on their Craftsman line.
It’s interesting that Amazon is beginning to move into brick-and-mortar space themselves, much like how Sears went from a catalog-only store in the 19th century to the major department store of 20th century America. Amazon not only has purchased Whole Foods but is also opening small physical bookstores and stores selling top rated items. Maybe in the 22nd century history will repeat itself and people will wonder where Amazon went wrong.
I haven’t been in a Sears store in about a decade either. Last thing I remember from that visit was that we had something to buy, we wanted to pay for it, but there was no one around to do the transaction. Seriously, there was no one around in this mall store.
It was obvious for years that Montgomery Wards would close; they were MIA for decades before my experience recited above, and I felt a sigh of relief when they did finally go under. Sears always seemed to be the stronger of the two, but alas, it has now succumbed.
I was actually in a Sears about a month and a half ago, and it was sad: Obviously spaced out displays that were trying to make a limited amount of merchandise fill the square footage. Only Summer clothing in late August. Very low staffing levels with most cash registers unoccupied. And prices for housewares were high and uncompetetive. It was much worse that it had been a few years ago when I bought a gas grill there.
A couple of weeks ago we tried to make an appointment to have a new battery put in DH’s car at the local Sears Auto Center. After trying to call them off and on for a couple of hours and having no one pick up, despite it being during their ‘open’ hours, we went elsewhere. ‘Shut up and take my money’ doesn’t seem to make an impression any more.
The local mall around here has Pennys and two Macy’s stores-- since 1995. It also has a Sears-- which had been half closed “for renovations” for quite some time. The remainder of the Sears store reminded me of the discount stores where they don’t pay anyone to organize.
Good luck! Our local Sears closed, I want to say two years ago, and it’s still an empty space in an otherwise busy mall. I don’t think anchor stores are as much of thing as they used to be. It’s hard to imagine a department store that could be that successful in competition with Amazon. I Live a 5 minute walk away, and I can’t remember the last time I bought something there.
I think it was several factors. Walmart being one. In my lifetime, Sears also always had a “poor” or “low class” reputation that no amount of partnering with cool celebrities and more upscale brands could ameliorate. I was made fun of for wearing Sears clothes in school. When the brand-conscious 1980s came along, that was the beginning of the end. Also, customer service was anecdotally bad. The internet seemed to me to be the stake in the heart. I tried over the years to buy things online from them, but their UI was the worst. I always felt that they could have been Amazon, but just didn’t do what needed to be done.
Looking through subsequent responses to my post by other folks who know more than I do, it’s clear that you’re right: asset strip-mining has been going on for a while. What a damn shame.
Despite being CEO and an investor, ultimately the Board of Directors would make that decision. If he doesn’t have full support of his staff, or there are other investors with other ideas, that can be difficult
I too remember Sears fondly (more in hindsight). I was an especially small child, and my mom had an extremely difficult time finding age-appropriate clothing on the rack from any store to fit me during the late 60s and 70s. At least half my clothing, such as Toughskins jeans, came from the Sears catalog.
Granted, for a preacher’s kid growing up in Wichita, this was a highlight, to go to Sears or JCPenney. Also, my favorite score from the candy/popcorn kiosk was multicolored Swedish fish or cherry sourballs. This was before the local candy shop began to import Haribo gummi bears.
Fun fact…the JCPenney in the Twin Lakes shopping mall had some fancy architecture, with a grand, circular staircase surrounding a decorative fountain pool that people would throw pennies in for wishes.
My experience was similar, but somewhat different: I was in a Sears store years ago, trying to buy a vacuum cleaner. Only one salesperson was in sight, and he was “helping” another customer, except that both of them were just standing there, looking at something. No movement. No talking. Just stood there, looking. I also stood there, waiting. I would have waited a long time if he’d just said, “I’ll be with you in a moment”, but he didn’t, so I left, and went to another (non-Sears) store, where I got good service.
After a couple decades, I went to Sears again, The item I wanted wasn’t stocked, and could only be shipped to my house, not to the store. Nobody’s home at my house during the day, so again, I went to another store, and got what I wanted.
I don’t know how Sears stayed in business this long.