Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

rwsandiego
Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Posts: 712
Joined: April 3rd, 2016, 10:57 pm
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by rwsandiego » March 23rd, 2019, 8:34 am

A very interesting read from The Wall Street Journal about the demise of Sears.

One thing that stuck me when reading the article was how Eddie's hires seem to operate in a different reality than the others who were interviewed for the piece.

storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 4348
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 31 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by storewanderer » March 23rd, 2019, 9:21 pm

That is a real difference in what the different people involved say. This is a great piece of journalism that found people to talk to from Sears lifers to people who came at all points in between. Clearly, Sears was already pretty far "off track" before Eddie became involved and had been a big mess for quite some time.

I think Sears was a pretty dysfunctional mess long before Eddie showed up. He just added a new and different element of dysfunction.

SamSpade
Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Posts: 745
Joined: September 13th, 2015, 4:39 pm
Has thanked: 81 times
Been thanked: 2 times
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by SamSpade » March 25th, 2019, 10:57 am

I agree, great article. If you don't have a WSJ subscription (at the moment I do not...) you may be able to access this from the resources of your local library card.

This quote speaks volumes about the present state of America.
Eddie believed he knew more than anybody else. I had a conversation with him about putting the right merchandise in the store for the customer that lived within the radius of that store, and Eddie said, 'We have a Kmart in the Hamptons that does great.' The customers come in and they buy, I think he was saying, the $15 folding chairs. They'd buy them for their parties and then they'd throw them away. So why can't a store be anywhere and do business? That was a huge disconnect, because most people would buy that chair and hold on to it for 20 years.

rwsandiego
Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Posts: 712
Joined: April 3rd, 2016, 10:57 pm
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 10 times
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by rwsandiego » March 25th, 2019, 10:41 pm

SamSpade wrote:
March 25th, 2019, 10:57 am
I agree, great article. If you don't have a WSJ subscription (at the moment I do not...) you may be able to access this from the resources of your local library card.
Apologies to all. I didn't realize a subscription was required to view the article. I've had a subscription for years - never had to worry about that.

Let me see if there's a way to acquire a copy of the article that doesn't violate copyright laws.

Super S
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 1567
Joined: April 1st, 2009, 9:27 pm
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 14 times
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by Super S » March 26th, 2019, 9:05 am

rwsandiego wrote:
March 25th, 2019, 10:41 pm
SamSpade wrote:
March 25th, 2019, 10:57 am
I agree, great article. If you don't have a WSJ subscription (at the moment I do not...) you may be able to access this from the resources of your local library card.
Apologies to all. I didn't realize a subscription was required to view the article. I've had a subscription for years - never had to worry about that.

Let me see if there's a way to acquire a copy of the article that doesn't violate copyright laws.
Most newspaper sites allow you to view a limited number of articles for free. Wall Street Journal as well as a number of others do not allow you to view any content for free.

trainman
Bronze Member
Bronze Member
Posts: 17
Joined: August 26th, 2009, 9:48 am
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by trainman » April 2nd, 2019, 10:00 am

I was surprised to see a Sears ad running on Fox Sports Sun during a Tampa Bay Rays game.

Looks like at this point, the only full-line Sears store in the immediate Tampa Bay area is in Brandon, east of Tampa. Extending the definition of the metro area, there are also stores in Brooksville and Sebring.

buckguy
Silver Member
Silver Member
Posts: 140
Joined: January 31st, 2017, 10:54 am
Been thanked: 3 times
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by buckguy » April 3rd, 2019, 10:47 am

Sears was seen by the financial community as stagnating roughly from the 70s onward. The"softer side" campaign helped for awhile, but basically the floundered. The catalog became a money loser, but they killed it just as direct mail merchandising began its comeback, even before the web. They wasted a lot of time and energy with financial services. they stopped innovating and building on their core brands--Die Hard batteries, Craftsman hand tools, Kenmore appliances, Toughskins, etc. Sears always had been a mixed bag--the tires were terrible until they brought Michelin on as a supplier and their general line of auto parts was nothing special apart form Die Hards and , later, the tires. They were tardy in recognizing how to turn work clothing into a fashion item---they added Carhartt as its brand was taking off but never promoted it and the acquisitions of Structure and Land's End were handled poorly, without real integration of stock. Like a lot of big retail companies--think A&P which was dying for decades or, more recently, Winn-Dixie, they continued to generate cashflow and I think that and the various asset sales over the years (Allstate, Discover, and more recent ones) kept them going even as sales stagnated and then declined. They failed to follow where their middle income customers were going and were unable to really expand their base. There are lots of parallels to Wal-Mart and I wouldn't be surprised if pressure form Wall Street and the Walton family for profits leads to some future parallels (Walmart already has been stagnating for years, with veraious kinds of competitors chipping away at their core market).

wnetmacman
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator
Posts: 789
Joined: January 17th, 2010, 2:36 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 9 times
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by wnetmacman » April 3rd, 2019, 2:27 pm

buckguy wrote:
April 3rd, 2019, 10:47 am
(Walmart already has been stagnating for years, with veraious kinds of competitors chipping away at their core market)
The only parallel between Sears and Walmart is that both are trying to be everything to everyone. Walmart continues to succeed, because they don't just stop at one thing and give up change like Sears did. Walmart is still growing, both financially and physically. Sears has been in negative growth for some time. Walmart is closing minimally profitable or low-to-no profit stores, but the company as a whole is massively profitable. Unlike Sears, Walmart doesn't own a bunch of ancillary companies like Allstate, Die Hard, Kenmore, Craftsman or Discover that are worth more than the company itself.

Walmart is making mistakes; don't get me wrong. Walmart corrects mistakes quickly, and they finally have a champion of customer service in Greg Foran, who is calling out bad stores for what they are. A recent article quoted him in saying he gets 'grumpy' in about 50% of his store visits. 50% of 7500 outlets is significant! That means your store has a 50% chance of being a victim of grumpy by the #2 man in the company. That's not a reputation you want in Bentonville. The company is now making a statement: clean up the stores, stop the shoplfiting, or else we close. While the articles about closing stores are saying the folks there are being sent where jobs are available, most of the problem employees are finding themselves blacklisted when they apply elsewhere.

But I have gone waaaaaay off topic. Back to Sears.

Sears' death started when the Kmarts and Targets and Walmarts of the world began to appear. Where Sears was typically downtown or in the malls, these discount outlets typically were away from those areas. They built cheaper, and ran cheaper, so they could sell more cheaply. Sears failed to adapt to this strategy, which alienated their core customer, the middle class consumer. When the working class can use layaway for free (Walmart) or cheaper than credit (Kmart), or get more upscale items for less (Target), and all of these carry what the consumer wants, you MUST adapt. Sears didn't do it fast enough. It was said that they could have been heeaded back on the right track just before Fast Eddie assimilated them into the Kmart fold, but that pretty much ended their progress. And Kmart was also failing at that point too, so they are indeed going down together.

storewanderer
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 4348
Joined: February 23rd, 2009, 3:54 pm
Been thanked: 31 times
Contact:
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by storewanderer » April 3rd, 2019, 6:50 pm

Sears failed on many fronts. Merchandise mix was bad, pricing was bad, commissioned sales structure led to situations where customers were not being taken care of in their best interests, heavy pressure on selling extended warranties to customers and in some cases refusing sales if customers did not agree to a warranty, hassling employees and firing them if they did not sign people up for enough Sears Credit Cards... Sears did everything is possibly could to make customers, employees, and anyone else involved have a negative experience. It took a few decades but enough people had negative experiences that finally everyone was fed up and quit supporting Sears.

I remember in about 2002 having a negative experience with the local Sears Store. I complained. Getting any kind of answer out of them was an incredibly difficult experience. Their corporate customer service was near useless and the store ultimately did fix the problem and was apologetic but it took way too many phone calls and questions to get it resolved. At that point I determined I would never make a big ticket purchase at Sears because if they screwed up a small ticket purchase and transaction issue so badly and it took so much effort to fix, how bad would it be on a larger purchase? A search online at various threads with horror stories from people regarding such transactions answered that question.

The problem with Sears is they tried to be an integrated provider. Their appliance service business and appliance business burned numerous customers over the years with backorders, delays on delivery, damaged products upon delivery, and various other things that gave customers a very negative impression of Sears that left a long lasting impression.

This sort of transaction when it goes bad/negative, is a lot more involved to the customer than buying some lawn chairs at Wal Mart and experiencing a dirty store, surly employees, someone hassling you for the receipt on your way out the door, etc.

pseudo3d
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Posts: 2617
Joined: November 12th, 2015, 7:01 pm
Been thanked: 4 times
Status: Offline

Re: Sears Fears: The Final Days of Sears & Kmart, 2019

Post by pseudo3d » April 3rd, 2019, 8:17 pm

They really should've sold off the integrated services years ago, keeping only core ones (Auto, appliance installation, optical) while discarding others a long time ago. They had some very strange ones that were either licensed or still holding onto even in the last 10 years (driving school, dental).

Post Reply