Goodbye Sears. Thanks for all the good things you sold me. It’s almost un-American to even think you may not be around much longer after some 130 years. I know, it’s been a slow death. Sears has been trying to pull itself out of its tailspin for years, but the inevitable is just that.
It’s worse than when I said goodbye to Toys R Us and Woolworths and Plymouth and Eastern Airlines and a bunch of others. Such is business in America, especially since the Internet has arrived. But I suppose my generation is the last to realize the historical impact of America saying so long Sears.
Sears has filed for Chapter 11 and will attempt to reorganize and stay alive in some shape or form…but the mighty retailer that once ruled the flow of goods from manufacturers to customers across the entire nation and beyond is long gone. The company will be closing over 140 stores in addition to the 100-plus it has already padlocked this year. Sears is probably the mightiest store to fall in American retail history. It was the amazon.com of its day. To swipe another company’s slogan, there was a time when America ran on Sears.
I am old enough to remember getting the Sears Catalog every year. No, not the little catalogs they produced in their dying catalogs days that featured only specific product groups. I’m talking the original Sears Catalog, the one that was bigger than the phone book. Wait, there are tons of folks who don’t even know that phone books were once very big–like 3 to 5 inches thick. The Sears Catalog was just as big.
By the early 1900s rural and small-town America depended on the Sears Catalog. There were no large box stores…hell, there weren’t many small bag stores either. But Sears had it all, from clothes to appliances to hundreds of household goods to an entire house you could order, build and then fill up with Sears stuff.
At Christmas there was a supplemental toy catalog, the Wish Book! Kids then spent as much time going through that one and making their list for Santa as today’s kids spend time on their cellphones.
And then there’s Kenmore. My hunch would be just about every household in the 50s-60-s had at least one Kenmore appliance. Nor were there many fathers who didn’t have a Craftsman tool or a car rolling around on Sears tires and a DieHard battery under the hood.
Some of these brands may survive, but the Sears dynasty itself, as previous generations have known it, is all but gone. It’s true, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. For consumers my age, this one’s an earthquake.