Looking at Sears

I remember leaving to go to college. Amid all the angst my father gave me a Sears credit card. He made it clear that it was for emergencies only. Maybe in this day and age a Sears card might not be the best choice. But back then Sears was the be all and end all. They had nearly anything and everything you could ever need or want. I think that in 4 years I used the card once. We had to wear one-piece green coveralls during our large animal rotation. I had been drenching sheep and dripped some of the stuff on my coveralls. It ate a huge hole in the leg that continued to enlarge after every washing. I bought another pair. Of course the original pair was from Sears so it was an easy purchase. Once I graduated from college the only credit card I had was, you guessed it, a Sears card! My father had put me on his card for 4 years and I ended up with great credit. That card got me curtains, new tires, and some uniforms. It was wonderful. I think I bought most of my Christmas gifts that first holiday after graduation on sale at Sears. When I got married, it was Sears that provided some of the appliances, drapes and rugs. My oldest son’s first professional photos were done at Sears. In my current home Sears is responsible for the refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, washer and dryer, and the chest freezer. Our cars have Sears tires and Die Hard batteries (well all except the Prius).

Sears has been the one store that I can count on for my shoes. They carry the I Love Comfort brand that has allowed me to wear heels! They have my favorite summer shoes – Everlast. These shoes are so light weight and durable that I can wear them for urban caching and not worry about ruining them. I’ve found awesome deals on coats and purses and all sorts of men’s slacks and kids clothes over the years.

And now Sears is a ghost store. I stopped in to see if they had any shoes on sale. Well, everything was on sale. It looked like a liquidation sale. They had no selection. Nothing in my size. All that remained were mismatched sandals (leftover from last summer) and some awful hooker shoes adorned with glitter and bling with heels so high they were a danger. I wandered over to the clothing sections. The racks were widely spaced in a futile attempt to look fuller. It was pathetic. I suppose the rumors of the demise of Sears are true. I had asked back before Christmas when I visited and the sales clerk assured me that the store was going to remain open. She said something on the order that the building was being sold but that the store had arranged to lease it back and there were no plans to close. I suppose plans change. Although there are no announcements in the news paper (we are still reeling from the closure of Payless Shoes) it looks like Sears will be the next in a series of closures.

It is the end of an era….

31 thoughts on “Looking at Sears

  1. I haven’t shopped at Sears for awhile as they have been going down hill. At one time like you we did. In fact our son once said our home looked like Sears threw up. 🙂 Though i do have my electric kitchen stove from Montgomery Wards and it is now at least 40 years old. We all know what happened to Wards.

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    1. Yes. Ward’s went out of business just after son#2 was born. At their liquidation sale we got a playhouse for the backyard. That thing survived 2 boys and then a nother family bought it from us and it survived another 4 kids… I think the grands are playing with it now!

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  2. Sears was such a large part of our lives, especially when I was a kid. The catalogue was everything, especially the Wish Book. My brother and I would circle and underline all the things we wanted for Christmas. Then, when I moved to the city. I visited my first Sears store and it was amazing. They really did, have everything. But, as with many large stores of this nature, Sears has taken a huge hit with the advent of online shopping. Amazon, eBay, etc. have made stores like Sears obsolete, for a large part of the buying population.

    I never had a Sears credit card but it makes total sense that it would have been the card to have at the time.

    Thanks for sharing and taking me down memory lane 🙂

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    1. Oh yes! The Wish Book… I could wax poetical but I’ll save that for another time. It was magical and although the regular catalog had some color photos there were plenty of B&W – the Wish Book was all glossy photos in color!! My sisters and I would sit for hours flipping through the pages wishing and wishing harder…

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      1. 🙂 Such a lovely image that brings me back to days when my younger brother and I would do the same. Such great memories.

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  3. There are lost of ends of eras for stores lately. I am very guilty of contributing to that. In the towns closest to us we have Walmart, Dollar General, a Kroger grocery store, a farm supply store, and hardware stores, and a Sears that is appliance and tools only. With such a limited selection in those stores because they carry a small selection of everything and a lot stuff they dont carry online shopping is my best friend. The last thing I want to do when I get home is drive over 2 hours one way for a few more stores to shop in. Or drive 3.5 hours to Denver and have deal with that.

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    1. That was how Sears got so big to begin with – they provided “mail order” nearly everything (except brides) to all the rural areas of the country. If you lived in the middle of nowhere you could still have the latest fashion, furniture, farm implements and even pre-fab houses!

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  4. Sears has virtually disappeared from this part of the country, though I understand that the company has been “saved” by being purchased by it’s former CEO, and will continue to operate as a smaller entity. Mergers, tech advances, and on-line stores have really hurt the old stores that we grew up with!

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    1. Yes, it is true. I think Sears might have done better to go back to its roots and become a bigger online presence and taken advantage of the internet ordering process. With the problems with package theft it would be nice to have a place where you could have your packages received in safety and a 24 hour pick-up availability. Maybe Sears will turn some of its stores into that kind of location…

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  5. We also have a small Sears that only sells appliances and tools. It’s an independent store. We’ve had so many stores close around here. I have no place to buy shoes now, and I badly need a new pair of sneakers. I can’t wear the cheap ones anymore. I really don’t want to buy them on-line! I’ll try to get a ride to Ft. Wayne sometime with one of my kids, since I prefer to drive here in town only.

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    1. I hear you! I’ll purchase lots of things online but shoes, bathing suits and bras are the things that require a little more “hands on” approach to shopping. I’ve never been able to get clothes on line that fit right – so I’ll continue to do most of my shopping at Goodwill!!

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  6. Sears was also my first credit card. I think I got it when I was 19 after my dad gave me his card so I could get some work done on my car. There was some issue because he hadn’t officially added me to the card, so I just applied for my own. I still have it, but your Sears is the closest one to me and it sounds like I won’t be using it there anymore. I’ve found pajamas and clothes for my mom there in the past few years. It’s hard to find clothes for an elderly person in a nursing home who has Alzheimers and picks at bling, tries to eat everything, and needs clothes with complete opacity and no buttons that are easy for the aides to put on her, but hard for her to remove. One of the many unexpected challenges when dealing with this disease, and Sears was one of the few places I could find clothes that met all the requirements.

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    1. Hah — that brings back memories! When my mother was in assisted living, she asked me to get her flannel pj’s. After a hunt all over Santa Barbara, the only ones I could find that spring were in a teens department, and had kittens all over them. I took them to her, and she graciously thanked me for them, but later she told me that she had thought it was a joke, and had given them away!

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    2. We should go to Sears soon. They had nearly everything 40-70% off. Granted the selection was not what it once was but they might have just the thing for your mother… BTW do you want to do that Wine and Canvas on 3-30 the Poppies using the palate knife??

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    3. Hi Vi, There’s a website that specializes in clothes for seniors with special needs. It’s called Buck and Buck. They even have an Alzheimer’s section. They also will send you a catalog if you want. The clothes look pretty and are not too expensive.

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  7. I remember Sears with the same fondness. My dad (a teacher) worked there part-time (evenings during the Christmas season) selling jewelry. That netted him an employee discount, so a lot of our Christmas presents came from there, my radio, a record player, toys and clothes. My appliances are all Kenmore. Most of my tools say “Craftsman” on the handle. Around here, K-Mart succumbed first, then Sears, run into the ground by SuperStores and online retailers. It saddens me, too. 🙂

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    1. Sears bought K-Mart but it was a bad investment. It was the beginning of the end. Now the only true department store left is JCPenney and they have gotten rid of most of their house goods, furniture, and bedding! We have lots of Craftsman tools too and Kenmore too. When my dad was teaching he worked at Sears during the summers – I think delivering appliances (hard work for low pay) but it was an income and that employee discount was a big perk!

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          1. The anchor stores of our malls seem to be disappearing, except for the huge mega-malls. What is left is the smaller, specialty stores. I guess the teens will hang out there, and along the walkways!

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  8. Oh yeah–Sears is dying quickly. It is one of two anchor stores at our craptacular mall and is about as well stocked and exciting as the store you described herein. I guess Sears will disappear at some point just like Robuck.

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  9. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is mourning the loss of Sears! I also remember when you could buy just about anything there, and we often did. But now so many brick and mortar stores are closing…and it’s a viscous cycle because they keep cutting back on staff and selection in the stores, so that the shopping experience isn’t as good, which means less shoppers, which means more cutting back…… But I really don’t want to live in a world where everything is purchased on the computer! (I mean, why rely on something that acts up all the time, as I’m not getting all my emails anymore, for whatever reason.) In some ways, I really don’t like the direction our world is taking.

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    1. I like the activity of “going shopping” and trying to find a bargain. I enjoy the interaction but online shopping is different. I’ve seen some things (the ads popup all over the place) that look interesting but I’m not going to order anything. I need to try it on. Too many times I’ve grabbed something cute on a hanger that looks awful on me – wasn’t flattering, too small/too big, cut funny… And shoes are so variable. In one style I need a 7 another requires a 7.5 and even a 6.5! Unless I can try it on there’s no way I’d buy. Although that’s just what I did for my hiking shoes. I tried them on in the store (but they didn’t have them in the color I wanted. I went online and got the color and a hefty discount. But that is the only time I’ve done that (once in 20 years). As for the computer being reliable I don’t have a problem BUT I’m terrified of hacking or unsafe sites so I don’t want to put my credit card info out there!

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  10. I have fond memories of Sears from early childhood. When my family left East TN and moved to Memphis so my dad could take a new job, my great-grandmother Gracie continued to supply my play clothes (little bubble outfits made of cotton seersucker, that tied at the shoulders…I am sure there is a more proper name for them) via the Sears Catalog. She’d alert us they were on their way, and then my mama would drive over to the Sears Catalog storefront that was set up specifically for package delivery. (You’d walk to the counter and give them your name, and then they’d go and retrieve your package for you. My, how times have changed.)

    Over on the other side of Memphis was a huge Sears store, where we went for things from time to time. In the center was a massive candy counter. Anybody remember that? It smelled like roasted peanuts and popcorn, but they had all kinds of confections, which they sold by weight and then handed you in a little pink-striped paper sack so you could carry around your treat inside the store and nibble while you shopped. We always, always stopped at that counter. My mom bought most of my school clothing there, but never the shoes, because they were never cut to accommodate wide ballerina feet, so they pinched and bound my metatarsals uncomfortably. But the clothes were the thing: affordable, decent quality, and I liked them, which matters a lot when you’re a girl, especially a pre-teen/teenage girl.

    Sadly, I think Sears deserves to go out of business now: it hasn’t kept up, at least, not in an appealing way, with the here and now. Nor has it celebrated its past. It needs to do both. A smart marketing department would capitalize on the things that once made an outing to Sears such an event (see candy counter above). I can’t remember a single time in the last decade or more I went to a Sears store (always inside a mall, seems) and had a nice shopping experience. Boo, Sears: how could you not observe this in your customers?

    Unfortunate end to an American company, but nice post and nice memories.

    ~Deb

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    1. Glad I could take you down memory lane. Our Sears didn’t have a candy counter but the dressing rooms had huge mirrors in sets of 3 and the side panels could be moved to allow a good view from all sides. I remember having the dressing room door open and seeing myself in infinity – I was fascinated and probably made my mother’s shopping a little less hectic since I was occupied and not in her way…I had the same outfits growing up – my mother called them Sun suits.

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