Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Sears

If you read through various business journals over the past week....there's a sense of Sears coming to an end....maybe sooner....maybe later.  It's an odd feeling.

I grew up with the local Sears which operated in some 'giant' location in the midst of Florence, Alabama.  It was mid-town (well, in the sense of what mid-town means in Florence).   In retrospect, I doubt that you could have put more than 100 cars in the entire parking lot.  So on occasion (especially around Christmas), you had to park on the main street and put a nickle in the parking meter.

My folks would have made the trip into Sears about every six weeks.  It was the obvious place for clothing, tools, or Christmas toys.  I can still remember the Christmas catalog which would arrive in early fall, and you'd have an entire hour of enjoyment checking out what they offered for sale.

Across the street was the Sears annex where lawnmowers were sold, and tires were available.  My dad bought tires from them on a random basis.  At some point, he flipped to Wal-Mart and their tire shop.

By the late 1970s....that location had reached it's maximum usage and they swung Sears around to the new mall on the end of town.

Over the 40 years since....I've probably been in a Sears at least fifty times....mostly for clothing or shoes.  In the past decade?  I've been in Sears once.  I'm probably one of the reasons why they are in the negative position that exists today.

The thing is that they always had quality clothing or shoes, but beyond that....they were in a competitive situation with a dozen other companies and Amazon.  When I needed plain white shoes for the office....I went to Landsend and ordered via the internet.

I see this end as some comment to an era that is closing out.  Radio Shack (sinking at the same rate as Sears), Grants, Big "B" Drugs, Circuit City, CompUSA, Woolco, Zodys, ABCO Foods, Blockbuster, Tower Records, Price Club, etc.  It is a totally different environment today than in the mid-80s.  You can drive across various urbanized areas now and see various large store-fronts which are empty and waiting for the next start-up and their eventual failure.  At best, you probably have six to ten years of life upon opening some store these days....before you stumble or meet up with real competition.

So I have this image in my mind....Christmas....mid-70s....and this small town Sears decked out in Christmas decorations and lights flashing. That's the Sears that I remember.

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