RIP Sears


#41

Got tired of all that driving and arriving,
Racking up those miles all down the pike.

(Bring us home, someone!)


#42

Lampert drive Sears into the ground with his moronic management theories. It is a pity, with good management Sears should still be a strong company, but when you apply Randian thought to companies you end up with crap.


#43

Welp, I bet they void all the warranties on my Kenmore appliances


#44

An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.
Instead, the divisions turned against each other — and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered. Interviews with more than 40 former executives, many of whom sat at the highest levels of the company, paint a picture of a business that’s ravaged by infighting as its divisions battle over fewer resources.

A close-up of the debacle was described by Lynn Stuart Parramore in a Salon article from 2013:

It got crazy. Executives started undermining other units because they knew their bonuses were tied to individual unit performance. They began to focus solely on the economic performance of their unit at the expense of the overall Sears brand. One unit, Kenmore, started selling the products of other companies and placed them more prominently than Sears’ own products. Units competed for ad space in Sears’ circulars…Units were no longer incentivized to make sacrifices, like offering discounts, to get shoppers into the store.
Sears became a miserable place to work, rife with infighting and screaming matches. Employees, focused solely on making money in their own unit, ceased to have any loyalty to the company or stake in its survival.

Lampert has never hidden his affection for Rand and has taken actions to implement its ideas. For example, as Bloomberg reported back in 2013, he broke the company up into dozens of autonomous groups that have to compete for attention and resources. Only the strong will survive.

The problem that quickly develops in such a structure is suboptimization. It’s a term that was once used frequently, particularly during the 1990s when companies were trying to reengineer themselves into more efficient and effective organizations. In any system, there are parts that may have to perform in suboptimum ways to get the entire venture to act optimally. If you were engineering a car, for example, you wouldn’t optimize the drive train independently of braking and steering. If the car can run away from the ability to control it, you wind up with dead customers and massive lawsuits and regulatory intervention.

But with multiple executives fighting it out to get what they need, you end up running the company backward. Overall strategy takes a back seat to what individual groups can pull off. That was the problem that handicapped Microsoft in the mobile world. Windows and Office were the cash cows, and a future of the company, mobile, was left to wither. Apple and Google took away the significant market share that Microsoft once had.


#45

Just a post for memory lane.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/32287/11-bizarre-and-dangerous-items-sold-sears-1902


#46

I hated these jeans with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I was too skinny for girls jeans, and my mom was too cheap to spring for jeans that weren’t made of sandpaper.


#47

I’ll miss putting on my Sunday best and then spending my day at Sears:


#48

And that hard plastic brand label. It was the most durable piece of the entire product, sans rivets.


#49

Man . . . the end of an era. The Sears, Roebuck in Hicksville LI – second largest in the world – was where we went back-to-school shopping, and got tools and such. It seemns so old-school now; there was a full-service restaurant, a candy counter, and a weird little snack stand by a back door where you could buy ice cream, pretzels, giant lollipops, and frappes. In the Xmas season, the basement became Toy Land, with a Santa.

Man. Just remembered getting dragged to the section for “husky” boys (read: little butter-ball fatsos) by my mom.

I have barely been to Sears since I was a kid. Exception: I bought my new house’s “major appliances” (washer, dryer, fridge) and canister vac there; it just seemed “right.” Family tradition or something.

I still have a year or so one the service contract; I hope that’s still honored!


#50

The Antars didn’t strip assets. They employed what is now known as the Panama Pump to inflate the stock price.


#51

My parents had this record when I was a kid; the last line has always stuck with me: “I’ll shut up if you will send me Mr. Sears…”


#52

I guess I beat them to it:

Given that ESL is the biggest creditor, it sounds like Lampert will be doing a lot of talking into the mirror, and then charging the estate for his time.


#53

Sears was one of the first online stores. But it was really too early.
It was dial up on ‘prodigy’. And their catalog was on there in 8bit graphics.

It was a joint venture with IBM and Sears.


#54

I have my father’s Craftman tools from the 1980s including some corded power tools that still work amazingly well to this day.


#55

They should, they had a lifetime warranty! My dad always swore by Craftsman.

My main Sears memory, besides the christmas catalogs, is that was the store in my town where you could play an Atari while the parents looked at the boring stuff.


#56

The Bay is in trouble as well, as they bought up and spectacularly mismanaged the German Galeria Kaufhof department store chain. Now they are selling it off to their main competitor Karstadt, leaving only one department store chain alive in Germany.

Interestingly enough, the catalog company Otto is still alive in the Age of Amazon, mainly by finding niches Amazon still hadn’t fully assimilated and filling them first.


#57

We’ve seen that (for now) Amazon’s brick & mortar method is a lot more clever, though. Did Sears use its physical stores to shorten the shipping times on the catalog? If I had to guess, that’s a big part of why we have physical Amazon stores now: same day delivery with a backup plan (just sell it there.)


#58

I remember a local supermarket having that. This was when (some) supermarkets still sold records and cassettes.


#59

Yep, the misery of Toughskins as a late-70s junior high schooler. Even Wranglers would have been better, but no.


#60

I knew they were doomed when they bought K-Mart. That’s the sort of move that makes no sense unless you’re just siphoning money off of properties before letting them got bankrupt.