Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sears, the Dead Tyrannosaurus

Went to the going-out-of-business sale at Sears in Brookfield today.  It was enough to make you weep.  The sale has been going on for a while, so what's left in the store occupies maybe 10% of its floorspace.  The escalator to the second story is shut off, and it's dark up there; the northern half of the first floor is roped off. 

There are maybe $500.00 worth of miscellaneous hand-tools in a forlorn little rack.  Further on, there are a couple dozen mattresses with markdowns of more than $1,000.00; then, last, 100 or so assorted home appliances:  reefers, stoves, washers, and dryers.  The fixtures are available for purchase.

At one time, the Brookfield store was the "test-market" place; whenever a new idea was developed at The Tower in Chicago, the Brookfield store had it first to see if it would fly.

Clearly, not enough of those ideas flew.

Within my memory, Sears was the Tyrannosaurus Rex of retail, offering anything anyone could need for their home, household, garden, and yard (and for critter-control, too:  they sold guns and ammo).  Their catalog was 2" thick and was mailed to a large percentage of American households.  Their trademark tools, Craftsman, were the standard of the industry and had a lifetime warranty, no questions asked.  Their appliances (Kenmore) were made by Whirlpool, and kept Whirlpool very busy.

It was not a fashion store; in fact, their clothing offerings were the furthest thing from 'fashionable.'  So the handwriting on the wall was written in the 1960's with the birth of spots like The Limited.  Yes, the tools, appliances, and small-engine driven goods (lawn mowers, snowblowers, weed eaters, compressors) were still top-notch--but that's not where the profit lies.

Sears had an enviable I.T. operation, but somehow they totally missed the internet revolution.  It's possible that they simply wrote it off as a fantasy, or fad; that was their last significant mistake.  But if you think about it, Sears had the 'internet thing' with their catalogs--but they never made the leap until it was far too late.

Walking through the place felt like walking around a near-dead dinosaur, still twitching, but rapidly going cold.  It was sad.

And they didn't have what my wife was looking for, either--whatever that might have been.   

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