i knew they were screwed when they sold off the discover card business. it was the only profitable part of the operation.
We have some parallels. I was also a preacher’s kid, though my dad was an Air Force chaplain during my childhood, also the late '60s - '70s. Trips to the Sears in Sacramento was a big deal. Often living on isolated air bases, we did a lot of shopping through the catalog. Unlike you, I was a chubby kid, so I had to wear the despised “Husky” jeans, which seldom fit properly.
Did you ever stay at McConnell? If so, I was just a few miles away.
Only Beale AFB in CA; Sewart AFB in TN; Mountain Home AFB, ID and my favorite, RAF Mildenhall in England.
We owned a pre-Atari game system exclusive to Sears. I forget the name, but it had a Pong-like game, a “doubles” tennis game, a hockey game, and came with a gun for shooting skeet. My brother and I played that thing endlessly. Sold it, to my everlasting regret, in a yard sale in 1983 or 4.
The failure of Prodigy probably prevented anyone from suggesting online ventures again. “we tried that and it didn’t work”
There’s a profile in Vanity Fair
that comes close to explaining his thinking,
Lampert wanted Sears to compete with Walmart.
Where are Walmart stores located? Outdoor shopping centers with lots of parking and not much else
Where are Sears stores located? Indoor shopping malls with lot of " amenities" that raise the rent.
Kmart, apparently owns, or long term leases locations that are close enough to Walmart to compete for the same customer base.
It might be plausible; I don’t know much about the sector.
“Now is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?”
I also suffered through Toughskins as I was growing up. Talk about a product that didn’t live up to its name! When I got old enough to buy my own clothes, I immediately switched to Levi’s, but I found that their zippers consistently failed on me. I switched to Wrangler and never looked back.
On the other hand, my house has a window fan from Sears that dates to the early 1960s and is still going strong. A few drops of oil every few years is all it needs.
‘Fought to keep it afloat’ isn’t really what asset-stripping is about. They’ve just run out of things to sell and now the ship needs scuttling so they can sell the fixtures and floorboards too. And void a few hundred thousand pension plans. Then the name gets sold…
The process is called a “bust out”. Its how we do capital allocation now.
I’ve got my dads radial arm saw.
It’s frozen though, I think. It hasn’t been used in very many years.
And Walmart was going hard against KMart. Check out this satellite view of a location just outside of Jackson, California.
There, you can see a Walmart store, kind of out in the middle of nowhere, outside of town. Next to it is a closed down some-kind-of-building, but I know it was a KMart. Story goes that KMart got there first, did all the work and paid all the cost to plumb infrastructure to the site, then soon after they were done, Walmart moved in Right. Next. Door.
When we used to go by that area when KMart was still open, the parking lot, which is super visible from the highway, would have a few cars in it, but the Walmart lot was always far more filled. It was a matter of time. If that story is true, this was one helluva predatory move by Walmart.
In any event, I agree with all the people here, the memories of Sears thru childhood, the good Craftsman tools, hand and power, that still fill my rollaway toolbox (which is itself a Craftsman), and how Sears lots all kinds of glaringly obvious opportunities like being online first, its financial businesses (Allstate and Discover), and the house brands it had (Kenmore, Die-Hard, Craftsman).
Thanks to those fellow mutants who turned me on to this Lampert character. It’s a bit worrisome since the company I work for has a CEO who was, not too long ago, also made chairman of the board, and who in a recent interview said that one of his favorite authors is Rand. Geez.
Oh, yeah! Discover was my first “real” credit card, and I seem to recall getting some kind of Sears related prize for signing up.
I remember driving to Sears outlets to pay off my Discover card. For some reason this was more acceptable than mailing it in. I think I did it to maximize the amount of money I kept in my savings account, where it could gather interest; I transferred the cash right after depositing the check.
Now I pay be direct trnasfer, and savings accounts basically pay nothing so I don’t try to game the system.
The JCPenney in my hometown had a pneumatic tube from the main checkstand in the center of the store, to the second floor… business office? This was the 1970’s, and I just remember watching the capsule whoosh from one part of the store to the other. It was pretty darn exciting, a glimpse into the world of tomorrow!
Really? Huh. I still have a lot of Craftsman tools, and was still going there to buy them as recently as… er… three years ago? I always found most of their stuff to be good quality, with occasional exceptions. Always adequate. I still use many of them to this day, some even professionally.
I’ve never seen anything but garbage come from Harbor Freight. In my mind that place is the only thing lower than Wall-Mart.
Good ol’ Sears. Too bad.
We have a “Sears Hometown Store” near here, which I understand is privately owned and operated. Over the years we’ve bought some appliances there, both Kenmore and other name brands. Prices have always been competitive. This is a small store in a strip mall, nothing like the big stores in the malls. I wonder what will happen to them.
It’s neither not-adapting nor a vulture capitalist scam.
What happened is, the current CEO came in with Ayn Rand ideals (seriously) and changed everything around using that mindset with disastrous results.
He ‘individualised’ every department within a Sears store so they were now like their own little specialised store. So, essentially not really small-picture affiliated or concerned about their own Sears store nor Sears in general.
In other words, they were no longer working for the ‘greater good’ of Sears - it was all about the dept as an ‘individual.’
Thats why we saw the hardware depts start carrying other brands that competed with Craftsman and appliances come in that competed with the Sears brand Kenmore, etc.
The business model was no longer about ‘Sears’ - and now Sears will be no longer.
Have you been in one? They have no idea what they are doing in a physical space. For example: you don’t put kids books above adult eye level.
I buy all my shoes from Sears, an unaffiliated hole in the wall store in rural GA that has everything, including those aisles that are so claustrophobic that two people can’t pass by in them. I’ve often wondered how they held on to the name all these years. Now they won’t have to worry about it, I guess.
It’s not the internet, it’s Walmart, the same thing that killed ToysRUs.
I find it strange that the stock photo used in this article is the storefront of a little computer repair shop on Bowen Island, near Vancouver. No idea how they got the Sears sign, it wasn’t there a couple of years ago. But that is no Sears.
There is a truly excellent Italian restaurant a couple doors down though.