The End Is Nigh for an American Retail Legend


The End Is Nigh for an American Retail Legend
MARCH 22, 2017

Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart, announced in its annual report that “substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” The long, slow death of a retail legend appears to be inevitable.

The death of Sears, while not imminent, brings to a close a significant chapter in American history. For nearly 100 years, Sears dominated the retail and catalog business in America. In rural America especially, Sears “wishbooks” opened a world previously unknown to farmers with reasonable prices for washing machines, ice boxes and other appliances as well as durable goods.

It’s been years since I’ve bought anything at Sears, and even longer (the 1990s?!) since I’ve even set foot in a KMart. Narrow aisles cluttered with merchandise left on the floor and not re-shelved, dim and dingy, unhelpful people? I’ll go to Target or Kohl’s or Bed Bath & Beyond instead. Or even to Walmart, which isn’t that close to me.

The nearest Sears has for years been little more than convenient mall access for us, as their parking area is less crowded … which suggests we aren’t the only people not shopping at Sears. Maybe it’s an outdated business model (can you say J. C. Penney? Montgomery Ward?); maybe it’s treating customers like cattle; maybe it’s treating store employees poorly, resulting in poor customer service. Probably, it’s all of the above.


I wrote Sears a letter and told them how to turn it around and be successful.

Sears has 3 powerhouse brands: DieHard, Kenmore and Craftsman, batteries, appliances and tools. Rebrand Sears and call it the Tool Shed, sell appliances, tools and batteries etc. Drop everything else.

Along with that goes building and selling the best appliances, batteries and tools.


Sears made the mistake of not adapting to shopping trends. Not to mention their prices are not comparable to other stores unless it is a sale. Its adapt of die and it appears they will die.


Sears sold the Craftsman brand a year or two ago, IIRC. Kenmore appliances are re-badged products from other manufacturers (our “Kenmore” washer is a re-badged Samsung), and their formerly really excellent service plan sucks. Don’t know whether Die Hard is still on the market and still Sears (if it is, it’s also probably re-badged products from other manufacturers).

Re-badging isn’t new or peculiar to Sears. A lot of stores’ house brand TVs of the late 60s onward were all pretty much the same chassis, built in Asia.


Yea I know that and what they did was kill the goose that laid their golden egg. When they sold off Craftsman, they were left with little else. Not sure when the last time I bought a product at Sears that was not a battery or a tool (lawn mower etc), maybe 50 years ago…at this point, stick a fork in them, they are GONE!


My cousin said that Craftsman is now made in Mexico.

I noticed that our new (to us) '09 Subaru Forester has a Die Hard battery.