Sears closes its last department in Illinois, its home state

Originally published at: Sears closes its last department in Illinois, its home state | Boing Boing


Let’s check in on how the guy who left Sears in that huge of an mess is currently doing for a second



I could never wrap my head around why people shopped at Sears, even thinking back 20 years ago when i moved to the US. It always seemed to have an air of quiet desperation


What a time for capitalism that there are entities so useless and parasitic that they make us nostalgiac for their monpolistic behemoth victims.

On the other claw, we were trying to replace the 20" stove in our apartment and there were no stores anywhere where we could look at any of the alternatives. Despite doing exhaustive research online we still had to order three. The first arrived disfigured from delivery, the second had fatal and inexplicable design flaws that just didn’t come across in the online specs. The third is fine, but still had some hidden surprises about the inner dimensions and is a compromise. It made me miss showrooms for sure.


The Amazon of their day. Many a local small business was crushed when they couldn’t compete with the prices or selection in that catalog.

I wonder which modern monopolies we’ll be waxing nostalgic for when a new business model renders them moot a few generations from now.


Was forced to go to the last one this weekend, and I can tell you that’s exactly how it felt.

The store was easily less than 1/2 empty already, with most people milling around the mostly-bare racks. Since I was dragged there, I figured I might look at the tools, as I’m working on filling toolboxes for my kids when they move out, but there was nothing left.


Yes? I’m not sure I understand the distinction.

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I remember reading some commentary years ago saying that Sears had all the pieces it needed to be the Amazon of our day: They had experience with mail order. They had their own credit card. They used to have an online service (Prodigy, remember that?).

But Sears was already in decline in the 1990s, and like so many companies (and individuals), when faced with a crisis, it hunkered down in a defensive posture, rather than trying something new.


I was once approached by Sears to work on a project to turn their ever increasing number of empty stores into data centers. I explained that while these empty mall anchors had plenty of space, the real problem was power, telco capacity, and most of all cooling. After laying out the numbers showing how much it would cost to convert even just one of these empty spaces into a small datacenter, and that I wouldn’t touch this impending death-march with a 10-foot pogo stick, they decided to hire someone else. This was in 2012, and from what I can see, the project died without ever opening even a single data center.


It was an astronomical rise that has been compared to that of Amazon.

I’ve read business analyses suggesting that, but for their sclerotic and incompetent and technophobic management, Sears had a decent shot at becoming an e-commerce powerhouse to rival or surpass Amazon starting in the 1990s during dot-com 1.0. Instead the company became the lunch of a hedge fund greedpig.

Bricks-and-mortar retail isn’t doing so well in general these days. Over the past weeks I’ve noticed more and more storefronts up for lease, including ones formerly occupied by big stable brands like Starbucks and 24-Hour Fitness as well as smaller restaurants and retail shops. In addition to the Amazon effect, I assume this contraction aligns with the end of pandemic support and subsidies and the typical blind greed of landlords re-asserting themselves.


Yeah, you really have to go back 40 plus years to find Sears as a store that felt like a nice place to go shop. Since the late 90’s it’s been the sort of place you go when you want a dose of nostalgia and failure.

The greater failing, though, was not catching the rising internet tide. For a company that was once entirely mail order, its laughable that they missed that wave.


From what I know of modern data centers, it’s cheaper to build from the ground up in the right location than it is to convert an existing building.


My last pair of Toughskins are hanging on by a thread


Where do I buy a “die hard” battery now?


A much better selection (both in terms of variety and quality) than their big-box replacements, Target and Wal-Mart, especially for work clothes.


We were at some town in the central valley (California) several years ago, went to the local mall to kill some time. There was a Sears there, in a state exactly as you describe, @evadrepus. Those treadmills on display were so sad, waiting to find a home. I told my kids to take a look around this will be part of Americana history sometime soon.

Yes! This was my opinion back in the early aughts. They didn’t really come up with some new thing, it’s essentially just a catalog moved online. What’s the big? Only thing I could figure is that they hustled to make it work, hit that iron when it was hot.

That’s about right. Coming into my own in the 80s, I used to go to the mall Sears for their excellent Craftsman tool selection, just about as good as the super-expensive Snap-on tools, but way more reasonably priced, and the lifetime warranty. I also bought a lifetime front-end alignment from their auto service, for my 60s era Chevy, and when I sold the car, I even got a pro-rated refund for the plan. And their Die-Hard car batteries lasted 10 years, I was super happy with them. Speaking of Die Hard batteries…

I guess you don’t. For my auto battery needs, I go with Interstate. But I’m pretty sure that the Die Hard brand, along with Craftsman, were both sold off. It’s a sure sign of decline when you have to sell assets to stay afloat.

Does anyone remember Montgomery Wards? They were a B-list version of Sears. They had their house brand of tools, called Power-Kraft. Only reason I know that is because I have my dad’s Power-Kraft socket/ratchet set. Wards died in the early 00’s, IIRC.


He named it Fountainhead? UUUUNNNNNNGH that hurts so much. This is everything wrong with America in a nutshell.


Loved Montgomery Wards. Not sure why I preferred them over Sears, but I have some fond and some hilarious memories of them.

Fun trivia note - Mongomery Wards invented Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.


…which in turn was a business model that just expanded on what had already been laid down by Montgomery Ward, which in turn built on Pryce-Jones etc. going back at least as far as 15th Century Venice when the first known book catalogues were printed. Bezos is just the latest in a long, long line.