Sears is selling Craftsman to Stanley Black & Decker, closing 150 stores


Oh boy, bankruptcy in the next two years, eh? Even worse than I thought. Lampert sounds like the prototypical CEO, living in an ivory tower and not showing at the office, convinced he can do nothing wrong because he succeeded once in his life and equally convinced he’s privy to unique, divine business knowledge that he has to shout into his subordinates. Look how well it’s going, too!

Anyway, speaking of the store itself, the other thing that always surprised me about Sears is that there were all these other services tucked away hidden in the corners: surprisingly reliable clock/watch repair service, low-priced barber, travel agency, eyeglass store and a really good roofing service.


Sears will always have a special place in my heart and full of memories over the years with things like:

Browsing catalogs and making Christmas wish lists as a kid.

Doing school clothes shopping every fall (well not such a great memory since it was clothes shopping!)

Did my driver’s training school through Sears. We had it at the high school, but I missed the class one year and would have had to wait to get my license and my parents let me get training there so I didn’t have to wait.

Got my first suit there and pretty sure it was tailored with a guy on staff at the store.

And one of my best memories, getting a Sears credit card in early college and using it to guy all the Gold Box games as they came out, haha. Only $10 a month and I could keep buying games. What a deal!


This is a problem with zoning in general (i know from first hand business experience) in almost every city. The one especially pissed me off locally (but that i was not involved with) was a developer that filed for a single story apartment complex and then went ahead and built a three-story complex instead, cutting off the view of every house behind it. If i were on the council i would’ve personally been over there with the bulldozers having fun like a kid again. Instead the city just acquiesced to the fait accompli and let them finish the project.

A few cities like Santa Fe at least are pretty restrictive. But what being restrictive means in practice is being exclusive - see San Fransisco. Santa Fe is like 1/2 rich retirees and 1/2 poor native New Mexicans. But that’s the only way a city can retain its character in the face of such overwhelming pressures from development, but gentrification seems like the inevitable consequence of strict zoning enforcement, for better or worse.


For bargain shoppers like me and my wife, Sears is definitely our favorite store for buying kid’s clothes. The one close to my house has a great selection, great prices, and never any other customers competing for time and space; you’re the only one there in this giant department store whenever you go, and you get the staff’s complete attention and get in and out fast. We love it.


Interestingly, it appears that only one KMart location in Washington state is closing as part of this “right-sizing” of the chain. That blows my mind, because the dead-empty Sears I mentioned I went to earlier is in a struggling mall and literally had empty shelves and clothing racks pushed off in one part of the floor during the holiday shopping weeks. I thought for sure it would be on the chopping block.


WTF? What city allows that to happen? Do they not inspect foundations there and wonder why a one floor apartment needed those kind of foundations?

As for Big Box stores, while one city or area may not want the tax revenue from them the city next door probably does.


You ever see one of these graveyards when a big box leaves or shuts down? Our K-MART area was dead for years. It was just an area of vagrants and crime. It’s difficult to fill a spot like that.


So big stores should not be built. Is that what you believe?

The fact is everything built for a particular client in a particular location has a shelf life. Whether it is usable as is for the next “generation” is always a question. Almost every downtown ever has had to face that question.


If I believed that, I would have said it.

What I am saying is further up in this discussion there was a comment about too many shopping centers being built, but there isn’t a lot local municipals can do about it. When they do step in to try and consider things like appeal, traffic and pedestrians… there’s usually long and often expensive court cases where Wal-Mart normally wins even though they often concede a little on their end these days.


I will agree stores like WalMart present development problems for many towns, but they also represent opportunity for others. The problem of sprawl, of building new and bigger instead of replacing the old is one of the basic problems of urban planning.


Bloomberg article on the fall of Sears. I balk a bit at the “unprecedented” tag, or this quote[quote]Searching for parallels of Sears’s fall through business history, Gordon could find none.

“There is nothing like the decline of Sears and Kmart,” he said.[/quote]

From the outside, it looks pretty identical to what happened to KarstadtQuelle in Germany. Once dominant department store/mail order business which rested on its laurels and then failed to adapt to the internet age.

To quote from a Spiegel piece on the latter:[quote]“The drama was foretold. After the boom in the 1960s and '70s, the company’s executives allowed the brand to gather dust. Ten years ago, the company’s merger with Karstadt might have provided an opportunity for a new beginning. In truth, combining the mail-order business with department stores and specialty shops created a new kind of presence on the market. But those in charge of the company would have had to follow through on the merger and really fuse the two companies into one. Instead, they left far too many parallel structures in place. Millions and even billions seeped away. And when the company’s owners pushed the eject button on Madeleine Schickedanz in 2004, it was already too late.”[/quote]


Sears freed shoppers from the tyranny of the local general merchant and improved their living standards. “The cost of living went down the minute Sears became available,” said Gordon.

What’s interesting is replace Sears with the word Walmart and you have Walmart’s claim.

Howard Riefs, a spokesman for Sears, said the company has made strides in combining physical stores with digital initiatives, such as allowing consumers to purchase online items they can later pick up in person.

I’ve tried this a few times. About 50% of the time it worked at my store. Otherwise I had to use the pick-up KIOSK which is located next to some sort of storage overflow which is the portraits graveyard area.

Here’s the thing though. Shopping in Sears was not pleasant. It’s like walking through a decayed marketplace where I would often hear some employee explain to a customer why they couldn’t help them and then there are coupons that don’t work on anything… which includes the we screwed up coupons which adds salt to the wounds.


We do regularly go to Sears even nowadays. We find their children’s clothing section to be excellent. It makes great presents for my nephews and nieces. Plus their clothes in general tend to be very cheap and yet paradoxically, of excellent quality and nice style.


This. It’s kind of the ‘Broken Window Theory’ of retail.


Yep… there’s a KMart around here that is the same way. When you go in, the only description that comes to mind is Agent Smith’s description of the Matrix.

I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I’ve somehow been infected by it.


Yeah, exactly.

Sometimes, the answer is… if a mop won’t fix that, replace the damn floor, not think of a way to come up with one of the world’s worst internet storefronts.


Another 66 stores go poof


I wonder what their business plan is. What is the grand strategy to not only survive, but thrive?


What’s the strategy of a 120 year old man to not just survive, but thrive? Their business plan is staying employed for as long as possible.


You can’t realistically have a business goal of simply not going bankrupt. I am firmly convinced that unless your plan includes some form of “Take over the world”, then ultimately you will die. By taking over the world, I mean some aspect of it. IE: Google conquering the internet search space, amazon the online retail space, etc…