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Friday, November 6, 2015

How Sears Needs to Turn Themselves Around Once and For All!

          The name "Sears" once stood for "Where America Shops!", yet, in recent years, and years I mean well over a decade, the name Sears, like Enron, is used to always describe the negative side. When a company steals money and is caught, its called the Enron effect, when a chain of stores is doing poorly or closes, its related to the chain Sears, and that should no longer be the case. When Americans use the excuse that they don't work or don't have a job because of the economy is no longer valid, the recession ended a long time ago, and you are just being lazy. Sears has had trouble for years, even before 2007, but like the nations economy, it bounced back, and like Sears it should too.

          The name Sears represents American made pride, and traditional values that have been lost, but can be found again. The pictures above is of a store long ago in the 50's, when families looked forward to going to Sears, not just to shop, but to live, to enjoy themselves and what the store had to offer. Below, is a store in the 80's, built in the 50's, by then, Sears was of course a household name, every mall and downtown owed there business to the help of Sears, which is much why now, malls and downtowns are not what they used to be, simply because the loss of tradition, and tradition is Sears.

          By now, its getting pretty tiring of saying "Sears" so much, but if too words now describe the chain today, its "lost" and "forgotten". Mall management look at Sears as a waist of space, and potential for growth. Someone needs to sit down with these designers and tell them, modernizing the mall will not make it better, but make the management companies loose money in renovations that the death of the mall is inevitable.

          Looking way back to the 5-10 chains such as F.W. Woolworth, McCrory's, J.J. Newberry's, G.C. Murphy and many more, the stores were small, maybe that was there flaw, but the restaurant and counter for coffee and donuts is what always got a customer in the store, if you went in to a Woolworth with absolutely no intention of buying anything somehow they still got you to stop for coffee, or ever a water, something to keep you in the store, and you ended up buying something. This is something Sears never tried, but should, because all the modern features they are loosing money on trying to bring former customers back in or the younger consumer market isn't helping, because people that grew up on Sears as kids, buy there cloths and merchandise online, and younger people, don't want to even be seen in Sears.

          I am not saying to go back in time, but cut the modern crap out, simplify the stores, make the sections easy to find and shop in, much like in 2003 with the Sears Grand idea, that had to be the best concept of all time for Sears, a combination of all the traditional amenities of Sears, clothing, tires, electronics, beds, furniture, and the add-on of food and drinks made this the perfect shopping experience.

          This was for what reason, to change signage, or what, the only thing I find great about this commercial is all these stores are open and on my The Almost Complete List All Vintage & Old Store Locations in the Country list.

          I am a traditionalist, maybe that's my hangup, but Sears is a great chain, with great stores, and poor corporate management, maybe they should never have bought Kmart in 2004, and left them on there own in Troy, Michigan, and Sears in Chicago, instead of combining to make for this country's all time suburban blunder headquartered in my backyard of Hoffman Estates, Illinois!

          Sears needs to take one of there best performing stores, in the headquarter suburbs of Schaumburg of Oak brook and bring in traditional styling with modern touched, neutral colored carpet, with LED lights and an open layout, clean aisles, with easy to read and an organized system of the sections, and how one can complement the other, (i.e. put housewares right next to bath accessories, and tires right next to tool), just keep it simple, have lay-a-way, and a food section much like the Big Kmart food section, not the size of a Super Kmart, but the size of a Walgreens.

          Most important part, out a restaurant in the store, right at the entrance, and offer outside choices in like Starbucks, or an in house brand store, like a cafeteria called " American Fare" or "Smart Sense", keep everything consistent.

          Of course none of this or anyone's suggestions will ever happen, and we will just have to watch what will happen in the future for the company, and much of the pictures, as you scroll down, represents the downhill spiral that Sears has faced and what we can expect in the future, in most or are heads already is premeditated.

Thank you for reading and remember to check out Trip to the Mall on Facebook.


  1. Great article, and your sentiments are well-put. For several years, I worked for one of Sears' vendors so I spent a lot of time with people in their Hoffman Estates, IL HQ. A couple comments:

    - Eddie Lampert (Sears' chairman) bought Kmart in 2003, and in late 2004 Kmart bought Sears and kept the Sears name. Sears did not buy Kmart.

    - Sears moved its HQ from Sears Tower in Chicago to Hoffman Estates in 1995, long before the Kmart deal.

    - There *is* a showplace Sears store near the corporate HQ: it's at the Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee/Carpentersville, IL. That's the store Sears uses as the one they like to show off to vendors and stockholders. Go in there sometime and you will see fully-stocked shelves and an associate at every register. Similarly, the Kmart store in Bloomingdale, IL, is the nicest Kmart store you will ever see, all for the same reasons.

    - It's pretty well-known that Lampert bought Sears for its vast real estate holdings. The problem is that nobody saw the disruption that the internet merchandisers would cause (e.g. Amazon) and now those real estate holdings are worth a fraction of what they were because there are so few big-box retailers around any more. In 2015, he created an REIT called Seritage and moved all the real estate holdings there, further decimating Sears' balance sheet.

    - Eddie Lampert is not a merchandiser-- he's a hedge fund manager, which means he is only concerned about numbers on a balance sheet. Since merging Kmart and Sears, he has hired dozens of well-respected merchandisers, only to have them quit in frustration after a few months. He hired the "Moneyball" guy to create and run the "Shop Your Way" program, which has shown mixed results.

    While I think it's admirable to hope that Sears' leadership could bring the retailer back to its former glory (or a newer version of glory, whatever that would look like) I believe the days of the General Merchandiser are over. So many of the "greats" are no longer around, and the few that remain are struggling. While I have wonderful memories of going to the Chicago/Lawrence Ave Sears store on a Saturday with my father and grandfather, I just don't think people will shop at a 21st-century version of the 1970s Sears.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Very well put, and informative, thank you for clearing up what I stated above, I really appreciate that from a Sears expert.

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