Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sears Sells Craftsman tools to Stanley - The end of an era

You got a catalog in the mail that contained everything from tractors to bras, and Sears shipped your purchase to your home.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

The death rattle continues at Sears as the once leading retail giant struggles to survive in an ever-changing world.

What has always been so puzzling to many is what happened at Sears.

Many of you are way too young to remember but Sears built their retail empire on mail order sales.

You got a catalog in the mail that contained everything from tractors to bras, you placed an order and Sears shipped your purchase to your home.

Sears had distribution centers, contracts with suppliers and shippers and the ability to process orders reasonably quickly. Early on in their history, you could order a complete house from Sears.

The folks at Sears were simply the best merchants in the world up through the early 1970’s.

If you take that Sears catalog and clean it up put it online and you have well – Amazon.

What happened – in two words: Allstate Insurance.

As the financial side of Sears, Allstate and credit services, began to grow exponentially the top management at Sears became enamored with the ability to make large sums of money without all that annoying retail business of buying, handling, selling and shipping “things.”

Moving around pieces of paper and later computer files to make vast sums money was just much simpler or so they thought.

Sears morphed from a retail giant to a holding company only to see investments in real estate brokers and financial services fail.

The final nail in the coffin occurred years ago, as Sears was acquired by their once arch nemesis K-Mart; not only a huge business defeat but also a moral blow from which Sears would never recover.

Under K-Mart leadership, the Sears brand was left to struggle with little help or support and the death has been slow and painful.

For generations, the Sears brands: Weather Beater Paint, Die Hard Batteries, Road Handler tires, Kenmore Appliances and the, legendary Craftsman Tools were staples in US households.

For many years, I had the great pleasure of working for Sears in sales and on the management team. During that time, I received my Master Degree - an MBA.

Their employee training was the best and I used those experiences long into my career.

Their stock option plan bought me and my x-wife houses.

Each month when my Sears retirement check shows up as it has been doing for over 20 years, I get not only a few bucks but also a reminder of a great experience.

The Sears Store in the Tyrone Mall where I worked for many years is closing soon along with a number of other Sears stores around the nation.

The sale of the Craftsman Brand to Stanley Tools is near the last step in the history of a great retail company that helped many families raise their kids, provided excellent products, goods and services as well as jobs and great futures for many of their employees.

I suspect that next month when the check shows up it will bring a tear instead of smile.

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Disclosures: Former Sears employee – retired.

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