One of my go to stores when visiting the States had always been Sears. They are more often than not one of the anchor stores at the nearby mall along with J.C Penny or/and Macys. They also owned Big K which was also a regular on a shopping visit.
I suppose it was a couple of years ago we started noticing that visiting this staple of American retail was changing. The stores were often poorly lit and the produce spread out to cover the floor space. The floor space was undefined and several sections muddled together with discount rails with confusing messages. The designs never seemed to change but the prices were not as attractive as their competitors. There is so much choice at your fingertips that the shopping experience has to reflect the enjoyment of being in one of their stores and it definitely was losing it’s appeal.
I remember one time choosing some trousers from the Lands End section and trying to pay for them. I approached the customer service desk in that area that had a young lady sitting behind the counter. Her response was to say she was serving someone already so take it to another till when in fact she was looking at her nails doing nothing. Sorry Sears that didn’t wash with me. I just left my purchase and walked out.
We started running out of K Marts and more often than not arriving courtesy of Sat Nav at an address only to see a huge empty store with the signage removed. This was the case in Winchester, Augusta, Kissimmee amongst others on our trails.
I do stand corrected because KMart bought Sears and created Sears Holdings in 2004.
Apparently store numbers have dwindled over the past couple of years to just over 504 from over 2000.
Sears dates back to 1862 when Richard W Sears signed for a shipment of pocket watches when he was a Railway Station Agent. He decided to sell them to the other Railway Station Agents. He quit his railway job soon afterwards after realising he was a good salesman. Relocating to Chicago he was joined by watch maker Alvah C. Roebuck and Sears, Roebuck & Company was born.
They quickly introduced a mail order catalogue that with the spidering rail network allowed many isolated Americans to purchase items that were commonly out of reach for them. They offered over 500 different items from Women’s garments, wagons to fishing tackle. Everything was at the rural communities finger tips and for less than the local hardware stores could offer.
I did read that the time zones for America were introduced along with a train timetable so that the station masters could know what time it was and if the trains were running to time….of course with a pocket watch bought from Richard W. Sears. Does America have Sears to thank for the smooth running of the network?
If Sears doesn’t survive it’s current predicament and collapses it will be missed but it needs to step up it’s game to make it attractive to shop in again.
It is strange to think that Sears stopped producing its home catalogue in 1995 due to declining profits and yet isn’t that what Joe Public does now with the internet and shop online. I guess it doesn’t clutter up the coffee table though.