The Browser linked to an article about the decline of the department store Sears. I haven’t thought of Sears in ages. I think we bought a washing machine from Sears in 2005. Before that, the last thing I bought at Sears was probably a pair of Toughskins jeans (husky!) in the 1970s:
That’s actually not true, I’m sure. I’d guess that our family shopped at Sears at least until the early 1980s. I don’t know what happened. Suddenly … we didn’t. Like most of America, it seems. At some point, Sears just faded away. But in the Seventies, it was a huge part of our lives, just like The Carol Burnett Show and Reader’s Digest, and just as trustworthy and All-American. You went to Sears for everything if you were working-class or lower-middle-class people like us. Those Sears brands — Kenmore, DieHard, Craftsman — bespoke quality and value. And when the Christmas WishBook came in, it would suck my little sister and me in for weeks.
Until I saw that piece, from Crain’s Chicago Business, I hadn’t thought about how strange it was that a store and a brand that was so pervasive in my life as a kid had all but disappeared. The last time I even saw a Sears store was when we bought that Kenmore washer seven years ago, and I seem to recall being surprised then to learn that Sears still existed. This was a pretty interesting detail about how the company screwed up in building the (former) Sears Tower:
When Mr. Brennan stepped down in 1995, Sears no longer owned the Sears Tower. The company found it difficult to rent out the cavernous building, which was built under the assumption that massive 1970s-era computers would take up dozens of floors.
To be fair, though, somebody is still shopping at Sears. According to the story, it’s still the 10th largest American retailer, in terms of sales. But the future does not look good. Wal-mart is eating its lunch on the lower end, while higher-end retail department stores (e.g., Nordstrom’s) are taking away its better-off customers.
Anybody have any Sears memories? I had a pair of Toughskins that were magenta. Wore them to my first day of first grade. With a white leather belt.