Friday, October 24, 2014

Sears is Closing Another 100 Stores

This is just the latest in a series of store closings. It looks like inevitability and I feel for anyone losing a position in these closings, but it is going to happen. All they are doing is liquidating and shutting the company down.

Sears was a huge presence in America for many decades. The company was at one time the largest single retail employer in the country. Sears is where we shopped when I was a boy, and when I got married, getting a Sears card seemed like part of growing up. We bought our kids their clothes there, bought appliances, went there for family pictures. I can still remember getting the Christmas wish book every year. But that Sears is already gone and has been for years.

I would still be a customer if they hadn't thrown me away. I'll only tell my final story. I bought a kitchen faucet. It was Sears branded and had a warranty. A few months after getting it the faucet started leaking. Not dripping, but more like a small steady stream. I turned off the water and took it out and went to the store. The same faucets were on the shelf, the warranty plainly printed on the packaging. I was told that, in spite of the words my lying eyes could read, I would have to accept an o-ring kit and rebuild the faucet.

So back to the parts department. Then back to the sales floor to get the SKU off the package since they couldn't be bothered to look it up. Back to the parts department. Oops, that parts kit is out of stock, we'll order you one. This, while my kitchen sink is apart, and since it was an old house without cut-offs, the water is shut off at the meter.

Back to the sales floor to find a manager. We talked of costs, storeroom overhead costs related to the stocking of spare parts, whether or not my expectations were reasonable, store policy, yadda yadda. Eventually I got past him and found myself talking to the store manager, about a fifty dollar faucet, about two hours after I walked into the door. He was resistant, but eventually honored the warranty I showed him on the box, giving me a new faucet, and parting from me with these words, "Here's a new one, don't bring it back."

I agreed to these terms. When the new one started leaking less than a year later, I went to Lowe's.            


Comrade Misfit said...

W.T. Grant. Woolworth's. Ames. Caldors. Barker's. Montgomery Ward's. Circuit City. Linens N Things.

Lots of chains, large and small, and some that were around for almost a century, have gone under.

Add in the bookstore chains and it gets longer.

Goober said...

Unable to adapt to a changing market. What more can you say?

Worse, when the hurt started coming finacially as a result of their inability to adapt, they "fixed" the problem by selling crappier products, reducing staff, and providing crappier customer service.

Home depot and Lowes put them out of business. This happened for a reason.

I can explain it simply - I used to buy Sears Craftsman tools exclusively. I would not allow any other tool in my mechanic's set, because they were superior to any other tool at that price point.

Now, I won't buy a Craftsman tool, and purchase Husky and Kobalt almost exclusively, which are the Home Depot and Lowes brands.


Because Craftsman tools are so much garbage. Their quality is as low as Harbor Freight. They've become trash, and they aren't any less expensive. I can break a sears 1/2" ratchet with one arm, without fail. Chuck it into a bench vice, and pull as hard as I can, and BAM!

That was Sear's business model - lower quality, less customer service, shitty attitude, and the same price.

Shocker of all shockers, that didn't work out for them.

Differ said...

What causes a company to fail. Their business model couldn't keep up with change, however, the story you relate perhaps indicates WHY they couldn't change. Ultimately that attitude is driven from the top down; when your employees are grumbling about all the extraneous crap they have to do for compliance training etc. that they cannot attend to their primary responsibilities within their normal business hours then your company is on a slow slide to oblivion.

Jeff B said...

You ain't alone in bidding them good riddance:

drjim said...

90% of my tools are Craftsman, bought years ago. Some time ago I had ratchet that the mechanism failed in, so I took it to the Sears store for a replacement.

They gave me a rebuild kit for it!

Their open end/box/combination wrenches seem to be OK, and the screwdrivers still look good, but I'll probably be buying new and replacement tools elsewhere.

Hot Rod magazine did a ratchet "torture test" a few months ago, so I'll have to dig that out and re-read the results.

I seem to recall the Kobalt ones were quite good.

TommyG said...

In 1988 I got a Sears card and bought a chainsaw with it. 3 weeks after I bought the saw my wife lost her job at a local bank when it was bought out by someone to large to fail. The next week my company aid off about a third of their workforce I remained at work but in a job that paid about two thirds what my normal job paid. I called Sears and explained the situation to them and was told not to worry about it but to make some kind of payment each billing even if it was only a couple of dollars and then make normal payments again when I was able. After 2 months of $5 payments my wife gets a call for a Sears Representative in Atlanta wanting to know why we wern't paying our bills. She explained the situation to him and told him what our local store had told us about making reduced payments. He told he : in these words, "That was bull sh!t and we needed to pay our d@mn bill." When I got home and she told me what had been said I Immediately whet to the Sears store where I bought my saw, explained what had happened and asked what I should do. The person in customer services told me I was doing the right thin and to continue what I was doing and that they would contact the Atlanta office and straighten things out. About 6 weeks later we get another call from the same guy demanding to be paid. She explained what we were told by the local store again and that we were doing the best we could and would pay them off as soon as we could. He told her he didn't care what the local store was telling us he wanted his money and if we couldn't come up with the money any other way she should find something she could sell and pay our bills. I sold a pistol the next day at work and went to the local store paid them off and have never been in a Sears store or bought a Sears branded product since. I won't miss them.

Jerry The Geek said...

My story is much the same. Went to sears to buy a tuner/amp several years ago ... the guy in the electronic department didn't know what that was. (I had asked him for a recommendation of what model I should buy).

Then I tried to pay for the $200 purchase using my sears card. He refused to accept it without seeing that I had more than one credit card in my pocket. And a photo ID.

He grudgingly allowed my to buy the item, took it to the counter and range it up, then asked me for my Sears card. I asked him for a pair of scissors I saw laying on the counter, then used them to cut my Sears card into tiny pieces. Told him to put the card and the tuner/amp where the sun don't shine, and walked out the door.

What happens is, somebody takes over control of a company with a long-established 'good' rep, and begins to make a flash of increased profit by cutting back on quality and service.

Sears has been riding high on yesterday's image for a long time, but now they're paying the price for their short-term profitability.

There's probably a lesson in there somewhere.

Divemedic said...

When I was redoing my kitchen, I bought a Kenmore refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and microwave at a cost of about $7,500. They are all junk. The oven doesn't heat right, the microwave takes forever to cook things, and the dishwasher is loud and takes 2 hours to cycle through and give me dirty dishes.

I will never again shop at Sears. Or Radio Shack, who used to have a decent store as well, but that is a different complaint.

armedlaughing said...

Was never a big fan - none nearby. Others closed.
Except Craftsman, which, as has been earlier recounted, has lostb it's quality.
I did work at Discover Card, when Sears owned them, at a mall above a Sears.
Like Sears, overly laden with incompetent management.
Still is, after Sears divested themselves of them!


Will said...

In the early 80's, I wanted to establish a credit history, and someone suggested checking with Sears. So, I tried to buy a top and bottom roll-around toolbox. About $600. They told me they did not deal with people without credit already. Had the cash in my pocket. Went to a tool store and paid cash for a different brand. Bought a new truck with a loan. A few years later, Sears started sending me offers for a credit card. Told them to piss off. I think the only thing I bought there was a frying pan, last year, and that was due to a gift card.

I recall the story about the woman in Chicago who called them to complain about a stepladder. IIRC, in the afternoon, the chairman's limo pulled up to her house, and he delivered a replacement. Probably in the 60's. Seems they lost their way at some point.