"The Mother of All Catalogs" - Image via History.com

The end of an era has finally been reached, at least for Sears Roebuck and Co. Yesterday, Sears announced its collapse, and not easily either. With its launch in Chicago, 1886, Sears has always been the brand families trust, everything from insurance to family photos, and even merchandise to build an entire house. During the past decade, Sears had started to swap their signature vendors with cheap, lower quality products. Some of the better brands Sears carried were Kenmore Appliances, Craftsman tools, and DieHard batteries.

A bronze plaque hangs near the entrance of Sears’ flagship store in the Loop in Chicago – USA Today

One of the primary reasons Sears failed in sales was its switch from quality products to cheap, lower end brand names from Taiwan and China. Most online discussion panels agree that Sears had traded quality for quantity.  And did we mention there are almost no customer service employees at the stores when you need them? Sears, throughout the years, stopped caring for their customers. They forgot that customer service was key in keeping retail alive, and even more so when you have competition like Walmart and Amazon. Sears had also forgotten that customers are evolving, and their needs should be met. Sears started to sell what they wanted to sell, while keeping the merchandise and the design of the stores outdated.

This ad is from a 1908 Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog. – Journal & Courier

Edward Lampert, Sears’ financier, may have caused a decline in sales over the years. Sears was borrowing money to stay afloat. Lampert also sanctioned that Sears and K-Mart merge, which later caused an even greater failure. Lampert covered his tracks saying they were going through a transformation, which might have worked, if they stayed ahead in the game of retail, or even bothered to.

A crowd gathers for the grand opening of a Sears store on Chicago in 1932. – AP

Sears catalogs were one of the more iconic labels that set the brand apart. With such heavy competition, Sears just couldn’t keep up. Sears may have been a 60’s thing, with its focus on kitchenware and home appliances being delivered to your home. Now, with an influx of people moving to larger cities, Sears had further problems and realized they needed to become a store. With efforts to stay alive and symbolic, Sears was in fact, as Steve Dennis, from Forbes, called it, “”The World’s Slowest Liquidation Sale.”


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