Sears closes its last department in Illinois, its home state

I felt the same way about Jamesway, Hills, Caldor and Bradlees over places like Kmart and Walmart.

Depends, does an extreme difference in degree count as pioneering anything?

If so the prime next day delivery probably counts as something Amazon pioneered.

One click purchase doesn’t feel like something that should be patentable, but Amazon sure did pioneer it.

The “Amazon day” where you can set it up to (by default) hold all deliveries for a specific day of the week feels like something that must have historical president, but I don’t know of any.

I also remember Amazon crowing about serving people that enjoy books/movies/whatnot in “the long tail”, but I think at the very least someone else coined the phrase.

That may be it. At least retail side. Except maybe improved methods of worker exploitation? Or maybe traditional warehouse workers also feel enough schedule pressure to take non-traditional bathroom measures.

I don’t even know if any of that has really moved the needle on their profit verses traditional retail BS like having a store brand that benefits from better placement and market intelligence.

Yeah, i was in a Sears a few years ago, and it was sad to see how the merchandise had been spread out to try to give the illusion of full stock. And it was late September and full of summer clothes.

Of course the Craftsman brand has been sold off and the lifetime warranty is one of the liabilities that was shed in one of the bankruptcies. A couple of decades ago, I saw a set of barbecue tools with handles like Craftsman Screwdrivers. Embossed into the handles was “Not a Tool. Not Covered by Craftsman Lifetime Warranty.”

It seems like whenever somebody comes up with a bright idea of how to use a shuttered big-box store, they have no conception of how they are designed to be just barely adequate for that function and unsuited to being easily converted to something else.

ISTR that the NTB (Formerly National Tire and Battery) was spun off from Sears, but it looks like “Advance Auto parts,” now owns the “diehard” brand. But of course most brands these days merely represent a decal on products designed and made in the same third world factories.


Some days I regret existing and having a brain that has information that clearly no one cares about.


My folks had five kids. They shopped at Sears because 1) It was affordable 2) There was a wide selection of clothing, furniture, tools & household items for a family 3) There were frequent sales 4) There was parking. Sears even had snacks…I still recall the smell of candy & popcorn under hot lights at the candy counter. I bought my first LP in the records-&-books dept – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. I would compare it to IKEA today.


I was, like, “What? That can’t be right”. Well, it is (sorta) right! :smiley:

Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward, the department store.[2][3][4]

So the story was commissioned and published by MW, but the character was invented by a private fiction author. They apparently requested “a cheery story for kids”.

Thanks for sending me down that wikipedia rabbit (reindeer?) hole. :smiley:


Perhaps modeled on Kmart Blue Light Specials?

Yah, that’s a standard business school term. Every business has some form of “long tail” in its customer base that is handled in various ways.

Online ordering is a substantially lower barrier to entry than filling out paperwork and mailing it in (or making phone calls) to place orders. This is the big thing Amazon got right, I guess. Someone was going to be the big winner in online shopping and they were in the right place at the right time. I dunno if this counts as “innovation” per se, as much as luck. I mean, we all knew in the 90s that online shopping was going to be the next big thing. It wasn’t like Amazon had some amazing insight on that point. It’s the logical extension of where mail order was going.

As others have said, Sears was super well positioned to do this, if only they hadn’t opted to hand the company to a hedge fund liquidator instead.

If Sears or Walmart or Columbia House or anyone else had been more aggressive about expanding online shopping and attaching it to efficient logistics, they would have won, I guess.


No tears shed for Kenmore? We had washers, dryers, sewing machines, etc. with that brand on it.

Our Kenmore vacuum cleaner is still running strong after at least 20 years. I even serviced it myself when the motor’s brushes needed to be replaced. During the repair, I dropped that motor on the concrete garage floor, which bent it, and then I bent it back into shape.


In the 70s, my parents had 4 kids, and I was too undersized for the standard offering of clothes in my age group. The Sears Catalog helped her buy me clothes in the right size and keep her sanity.

I also miss the candy counter, especially the Swedish Fish, and those paper bags they’d put the candy in. The only other way to get candy that way in my city was Russell Stover’s.

And the day when the Christmas Catalog would arrive in the mail? Fond memories.


Kenmore appliances are still around, you just can’t buy them at Sears department stores anymore.


So is Craftsman. Which at one point meant decent quality, but now is just average.

Coincidentally, FOUND my craftsman 10mm socket I thought I had lost yesterday.


Mine was that was the only store in town where you could play on an Atari 2600 on display. That and the tools, dad just wouldn’t shut up about Craftsman tools and their lifetime guarantee.


I worked for the Sears Catalog dept inside the retail store. People went nuts for those Wish Books, and it was a challenge keeping them on the counters. Also part of the nostalgia, along with the popcorn aroma from the candy counter, Sears was a pretty good company to work for. They offered vacation days, competitive pay (with time and a half on Sundays), and 10% employee discounts on Sears purchases (15% on clothes). Catalog was also an interesting department to work in because they sold everything, including livestock (chickens, geese, swans, ducks and bees delivered to your doorstep). They sold quality products (Kenmore, Craftsman, Die-Hard) and offered that lifetime guarantee (I searched for replacements for split sockets, and once had to call a customer out on replacing his lifetime warranty work boots because he had deliberately set them on fire).

I wish we still had a Sears because it was so much better than Amazon or Wal-Mart. More about the quality than the money.


Sears was the go-to store in 50s-60s middle America when I was growing up, and I had relatives who worked there at various times. Price and quality were the big selling points. I didn’t learn until a few years ago that mail order retail was a big thing in segregated areas when Sears and Montgomery Ward got their starts, where Black people were forbidden to enter the better stores and were mercilessly gouged in the stores they were allowed to buy in.


Yep, Kenmore was another one that I would have mentioned above, but I tend to get wordy, so I didn’t. We had Kenmore stuff, but only stuff that GE didn’t make/sell. My dad was a General Electric lifer, and so when Sony came out with the Walkman, I didn’t get a Walkman, I got GE’s version of it, which was bigger and beefier, definitely designed by electronics engineers, not by what we today would call product designers.


I live in Canada, always had nothing but good experiences with Sears. Bought most of my large appliances there, tools, clothes, shoes. Even had a re-roofing done through Sears (Steep roof, no one wanted to do it at a time when easier jobs were plentiful; Sears had an affiliate contractor program. ) Was frustrating to see them squander their position when e-commerce loomed. Understand that, though; I can easily imaging the “but that’ll damage our core business…” arguments


Exactly this. It all just fills me with rage though, after he retired my uncle sold tools at Sears and loved that job. I loved going to Sears when I was a little kid because of the popcorn. I hate that a good business was pillaged by rich people while destroying the pensions and livelihoods of so many working class people.


Their heyday was the 1970s into the early 80s. It seemed that right as I was reaching adulthood, the stores started going downhill. But, for a very long time, Sears was the place to go for high-quality goods at reasonable prices. They even experimented with online shopping and services well before the internet took off (Prodigy). They could have been Amazon if late-stage capitalism hadn’t happened to them.

My house still has a whole-house fan from them that’s older than me. It’s all steel, and just needs a few drops of oil now and then. You can’t find anything today of similar construction unless you go to an industrial supply house.


[…me taking about amazon day…]

I think blue eight specials and prime day match up (or maybe blue light specials and the sorry remains of WOOT post-amazon acquisition). Those are all a “solution” to “we (the store) has an excess of item X and would like you to give us money and solve that problem for us!”. Amazon Day is a solution to “the customer would like to maybe get fewer packages, and have all the stuff land on a day where they can be looking out for them/be at home/somehow feel more secure from porch pirates (if in fact they are a danger at all)”. A customer doesn’t save any money on purchases or anything by having an “Amazon Day” they just get to know that “all the stuff I buy all week shows up on Saturday (or whatever the chosen day is)”.

Oh! I never head of it before it started getting bandied about in Web1.0 that I thought it was somehow a term invented then.

Yep, right place at the right time and didn’t screw it up. I don’t think any of the things I consider potentially innovative came until well after it was clear they were a success.

Absolutely. If any of them had watched as the early Amazon that only sold books decided they wanted to do that, but for all goods they could have very easily been where Amazon is today (i.e. Amazon’s lead in actually knowing something about the web would have been easily trounced by a company that really knew about being a retailer, esp. one with mail/phone order experience…Harry&David? – if they actually wanted to learn about how to use the tech and sell big time on line).

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This doesn’t surprise me. None of the brick and mortar stores seem to know how to tackle Amazon very well and the quality of products have been the thing that shows it to be true. I bought desk and a chair from Amazon at around 200 each and basically they were trash. I replaced the office chair with a local vendor’s chair to the tune of 640ish bucks. It was a steep price but the chair is actually good whereas the Amazon chair is just junk.