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Sears Is Going Bankrupt on the Intallment Plan

Written by Gary North on September 17, 2014

I bought a chest freezer at Sears as couple of years ago. Other than that, I have not walked into a Sears store.

Millions of Americans share my shopping habit.

Tastes change. Opportunities change. Prices change. Sears is about to follow Montgomery Ward into oblivion. It is barely afloat in a sea of red ink.

When I think of Sears, I think of the Sears catalog. I don’t look at catalogs any more. Catalogs are as dead as the Yellow Pages. Catalogs are what we get in the mail. Remember the U.S. mail? It is also a thing of the past.

What unique selling proposition does Sears offer? “Your grandmother shopped here.”

Sears is as boring as Penney’s.  I don’t shop there, either. I used to. I bought underwear once a decade. Maybe twice.

Sears used to be a major anchor store in America’s malls. Now malls are disappearing.

Hardly anyone under age 75 will miss Sears when it closes the last store next year. The brand is a fading memory of our youth . . . if we are old enough. I am.

This is what the free market does. It lets companies die a lingering death. Silly lenders who cannot forecast the future accurately lend it money. No one sheds a tear for them, either.

Customers can vote no in the free market. They do not walk in the door any more. They pull the plug. This is liberty.

Sears’ customers got old. It sold to matrons. The matrons are on Medicare today. Sears is going the way of its last remaining customers.

It was the store of the 1950’s. It shaped America for almost a century. Then it ceased to shape it. Then it grew feeble.

Sears made rural living somewhat more tolerable.  But rural living died. The daughters who grew up in the little houses on the prairie still shopped there when they moved to the city. Their daughters and granddaughters still shopped there when they moved to the suburbs. But their great granddaughters switched to Target.

It was great while it lasted. It made the world a better place. But then the world moved on. Sears didn’t.

It still owns about 2% of U.S. retail space. That is worth a lot of money. It just isn’t worth what it was in 2007.

What do you do with an empty store as big as Sears? Penney’s isn’t buying.

Continue Reading on www.forbes.com

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22 thoughts on “Sears Is Going Bankrupt on the Intallment Plan

  1. Interestingly, writer Gary North feels the same way about the U.S. Constitution. "It was great while it lasted. It made the world a better place. But then the world moved on. Sears [and the Constitution] didn't."

  2. Here's the real reason for the bankruptcy: Sears used to offer great, roasted cashews. I can still taste them. Then they stopped offering them 20 years ago. So I stopped going there.

  3. Sears started out as mail-order only. Rural America changed. It shrunk drastically. So did Sears' order base. It could pull a Phoenix but I doubt it. Storefronts are closing up. Most people don't understand why they would need a storefront. If they don't ever need any actual help with something that they bought, they don't. I am sick and tired of a$$wipes bringing things that they bought over the Internet and asking me to get them to work. Don't bother. I quit giving out free help to anybody who isn't an Eisenkid 2 years ago. Now it costs for me to even look at any device. RC or computer! Take it back to where you ordered it from. Mail Ordering parts and assembling them isn't for amateurs. Don't expect instructions.

  4. Sears was bought out by K-Mart. And K-Mart has been a disaster for as long as I can remember.
    I would shop there before. But the last few times I was there, I commented to clerks about how things had gone down hill, and their reply was that it was much worse than I knew.
    Prices are up. Quality is down. Service has vaporized.
    This is K=Mart.
    I wonder what will be the next store that they will buy out and destroy? Home Depot?

  5. I used to love Sears. I waited for their catalog like it was Christmas. You could order most anything. There was a catalog store nearby where you could pick up your orders. Tools, clothes, guns, car parts. It was great. Sorry to see them pass but now we have Amazon and igt comes right to your door. Different times. See my blog at http://cranky-conservative.blogspot.com

  6. I don't think this is correct. In 1986, I bought all the tools, paint, fixtures, and appliances for my new home at Sears. That was at the beginning of their attempt at "modernization". How did they modernize? They changed the emphasis of their marketing and product lines. They tried to do what Gary North thinks they SHOULD have done. It was their downfall.

    Sears' forte was in carrying the best tools and home improvement products, as well as garden equipment. They stood behind their product. People could depend on them and this was their strength. Around the 80's they started jumping on the bandwagon, trying to sell clothing to the 18-25 crowd. They focused on them and downsized everything else. Needless to say, it was disaster. They had (and have) the worst style sense of anyone. But they also destroyed their loyal customer base who relied in them for practical and durable goods. I disagree with Gary North. It wasn't that Sears refused to change that destroyed their profitability, it was the fact that they DID change and threw away a reputation for quality home products earned over a century.

  7. It’s a lot of things. Mega corps aren’t going under because their merchandise and shopping experiences need to be exciting; that’s just a lot of crap. The idea that consumers need to be pampered and coddled is just a naive idiotic mantra of marketering managers who don’t know shit from shinola. The bug companies have been going out of business for years. That’s how they got rid of small business America. They took small biz on a death roll that is only survivable if you have a ton of cash to waste. The Chinese took a page out of their book by being allowed to flood the market with cheap but well enough made goods. They exchange high margins for market share and then slog away trying to get back margins when the put everyone out of business. Then think about over head: rent, light, heat, insurance, personnel. I Dont know of anyone who’s actually stupid enough to say they’re paying fair rent. Especially when the landlord is a trust that can afford vacancies for almost ever and who has the resources to avoid any kind of negotiation on price with the tenant. Why else could these jerks keep putting up space available and lease signs; there proud of it. Let’s see what else: jobs lost in the USA replaced by low paying and or par time work. Global , intra dependent economies like the EU that tries to manage financial treaties without political unions, stupid. And the USA trying to do the same in our hemisphere with Canada and mexico. After the greatest generation came the dumbest and most arrogant and most destructive. No, if sears and penneys are going down its not because they’re “unexciting”. Who is exciting then: target, Walmart, kohls, Abercrombie, AE, Aeropostale? They’re all going down. Consumers are facing.and experiencing post traumatic stress from the amount of crap they’ve bought weighed against debt as they chase after an image of success that’s only obtained via leases BMW’s and Lexus’s. That and a heinous belief that real estate would always go up in value…. talk about being sold a line of garbage by our “elected leaders”. Dumb marketers, unfortunately, didn’t fail the system. The system failed the system.

  8. Public Citizen says:

    So who's going to honor the "Lifetime Warranty" on the billion dollars worth of Craftsman Branded Tools that I and every other tool user in America own?

  9. SHOUT BINGO! You are absolutely right. Sears went downhill with the Kmart ownership. It went from quality, to crap. And with the loss of quality came the FILTHY stores, bad customer service attitude of the Kmart crowd.

  10. That surely brings back memories i.e. Christmas catalogues, the best. As far as anyone mentioning Target; I don't shop there unless there is a very great need; I do NOT like their agenda and at Christmas, especially, since they stopped letting Salvation Army have their kettles there. Salvation Army is one of the greatest organizations anywhere and I know people who have been greatly helped by them. Their higher ups don't draw a salary in the six digit figures, either. Other than that, I still like to go out to shop and browse rather than order on-line, even tho', I do that occasionally, also. There are many things one can find that aren't in the stores.

  11. Why does this particular one have to be approved? The one below didn't.

  12. Frustrating, to say the least.

  13. Rattlerjake says:

    Just like now, even Sears doesn't honor their own "Lifetime Warranties". I bought several garden tools with a "Lifetime Warranty" when they were on sale and a good value, but when they break it's impossible to find a replacement at the store or they no longer carry it and want you to trade it for something you already own! I refuse to enter a Sears store except to try to replace a broken warrantied tool!

  14. Preston Parsons says:

    I do NOT care for Target (though I'm no longer necessarily a Sears fan, either). Target doesn't back up their goods with service or warranty, in my experience. I purchased some supposedly "quality" captain's chairs there some years ago. A guest at my home sat in one, and it broke near a critical joint, which could have easily further collapsed completely and injured the man, potentially severely. Thankfully, that didn't happen, BUT, when I contacted Target corporate, they simply, coldly and rudely refused to make good on the merchandise. A law suit might have been a bit more costly for them, had I been the type that instituted such. I never cared to shop there again, and have made certain to share my experience with anyone at any appropriate time. NO, I don't like 'em. (Wal-Mart would have most likely offered to replace or refund, in my experience… which is, in part, why W-M has "eaten Target's lunch", so to speak.)

  15. Doug Rodrigues says:

    The turnoff for me with Sears was when Sears tools manufacturing was transferred to Mexico.

  16. Cord the Seeker says:

    Theyre guaranteed thats different from warranty. But the answer is No one. Point is that the quality is such that they’d offer a guarantee knowing full well either that it’ll be forgotten about or never needed. Honestly, another problem that Sears is facing is the over caffeinated, multi tasking, rabid consumer driven, buffet eatin, more is always better general public.

  17. Cord the Seeker says:

    Yeah. Progress has know patience even if you’re progressing to hell

  18. I soured on them when they promoted and changed to the 'Lighter Side" of Sears and went all feminine sissy wussy. The stench of estrogen drove all the customers out. It is what destroyed our education, news reporting and political systems.

  19. monkshoodgardens says:

    I stopped shopping at Sears several years ago when my screen door was broken when a stove was delivered. The company Sears contracted with would not help me nor would Sears nor would their insurance company. I was left with a broken screen store…I have not even entered a Sears store since. They could not give me any product of theirs. I posted my story on their webpage and was contacted and told that it would affect my "account"….which I had already cancelled. Sounded like a veiled threat to me.

  20. sweetqueen777 says:

    This writer is correct. Entering a Sears store now is like visiting deserted museum. As a child of the 50's, I loved Sears. I eagerly awaited the Christmas "Wish Book", and usually we got all my School clothes there. Now, the store is deserted, and the clothing is styled for old ladies. I think that Craftsman and Kenmore brands are keeping them alive, barely. Those are still some of the best products available. Another little bit of America dying, but then, that is how capitalism and the free market thrive. I recently learned that, at one time, you could buy a house kit from Sears, and build a pretty nice little home. Some of those are still existing today.. Maybe that could be a new outlet for them, in this day of survivalist types.

  21. Does anyone else wonder how K-mart stays in business? If you need a little peace and quiet and do not want to run into anyone you know… go to your local K-mart; there is never more than a few customers in that quarter to half a million square foot store.

    I have been told that they are able to keep the stores open from the profits they make from their pharmacies. This sounds far-fetched, but I have heard it from more than one source.

  22. richard holmes says:

    If you are serious with your statement you are an idiot, or communist demoncrap, or both.