Sears, the store that should have and could have, but didn’t

A cartoon in iPolitics, its headline being the single word, “Sad.” shows a huddled mass of Canadian Sears employees crying over the loss of 12,000 jobs.

The second frame? A huddled mass of tearful Canada Revenue Agency employees crying over the loss of 12,000 Sears workers who will no longer be audited over accepting staff discounts.

It was cruel, but accurate.


I love this pic, my first “cool” bike was a Sears Spyder, which I believe is the one pictured. High handlebars and a Banana seat, thought I was the greatest thing since Jaw Breakers.

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  • Dana Garcia
    • Dana Garcia

      Pretty mean, I thought.

      The New York Times (!) had a front-pager on Sunday about job loss that was a lot more sympathetic to victims of outsourcing.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/14/us/union-jobs-mexico-rexnord.html

      Work Freed Her. Then It Moved to Mexico.

      • That’s NAFTA.

        • Dana Garcia

          Anti-NAFTA was my first political activism.

          • No one saw Mexico coming originally and our “Business & Political class” they just lied outright As they do about mass immigration today.

          • Dana Garcia

            The brilliant captains of industry often forget that a robust economy requires shoppers with spare cash as well as products to buy.

          • Alain

            True but today those brilliant captains of industry are all globalists without any sense of concern for their own nation. As long as they have shoppers somewhere to buy their stuff they could care less about their own countrymen. It is pure greed.

          • Dana Garcia

            Yes indeed, but shoppers in the first world making $20/hour can buy a lot more stuff than Mexicans making $3.

          • john davis

            Dana, yes $20/hour CAN buy a lot more stuff than somebody making $3/hour if all factors are equal. In this case, they’re not.

            The cost of goods and services in Canada is much different from that of Mexico. There are several reasons for that, but the big one is the fact that there are people making $20/hour.

          • Alain

            They have other markets besides Mexico to sell their goods.

          • Alain

            I confess to having bought into the NAFTA narrative at the time wrongly believing it was something totally different from what it turned out to be. Had it been limited to free trade between Canada and the United States (what I thought it to be) it seemed to make economic sense. Now I am totally against it and would love to see the whole thing trashed. Only then could something beneficial to both countries be worked out minus all the outsourcing to 3rd world countries along with China. That won’t happen with our present government.

          • Dana Garcia

            Yes, Mexico was the monkey wrench.

  • PaulW

    Ha! Look at that station wagon – that brings back memories. They were pretty common in those days (kind of the equivalent of today’s minivan).

  • dukestreet

    Sears have been in trouble for ages. I can remember when they were flush with cash and volunteers from Sears executives offered help to our church which included meetings at their headquarters,hosted by them. The meetings were supper meetings and they provided the food and everything else. The stuff hashed out in those meetings did not help. Only made things worse . They were supposed to be providing their expertise. It’s no wonder they ended up in the situation that they are in now.

    • The owner of Sears has long been charged with running it into the ground.

  • dukestreet

    I loved my free range childhood. My parents told us that we could have as much freedom as we could handle. The more freedom we were comfortable with the more we got. Also meant we grew up expecting to work for what we wanted and never expected it free. We were generally tougher than kids these days. We fought our own battles and didn’t expect some one else to do it for us.
    Snowflakes were almost unheard of and they were certainly a small minority.

    • Editor

      So did I ! I grew up 100 yards from a national park all my friends and I played there with knives, hatchets, firecrackers, slingshots, BB guns and we all survived. Common sense was also more . . . well, common back then.

      • Exile1981

        In the summer my mom would kiss me goodbye at 8:30am after breakfast, i’d grab my lunch and hiking pack and head into the woods until 5ish for supper.

        I remember being 16 and being given the car keys and permission to take it Edmonton for the weekend with friends. A 350km drive one way in winter.

    • Alain

      Amen to that. I also am so fortunate to have known such freedom which is non existent today in Canada. In fact what little freedom that remains is being eliminated little by little with the majority of people going along with it.

      • Editor

        The park I refer to now has signs warning people the park closes at 23:00. The FOREST closes at 23:00 . . . I’m not sure but I think they put the trees away for the night or something. Maybe they vacuum.

        Jokes aside, I think the authorities have come to the conclusion it’s easier to prohibit everyone from activity x rather than to prosecute the 1 or 2 idiots who abuse the privilege. I think this mindset underlies much of our regulation crazy institutions.

      • A Hamilton Guy

        I was running around in the Red Hill Valley when I was 4 yrs. old: My mother would be locked up now. Children’s Aid now run by educated Idiots. I’m 80 and still here.

    • canminuteman

      We have been trying to get our kids to be free for a long time. We are happy to give them more freedom than they want. I suspect a lot of kids are snowflakes for some reason other than overprotective parents, and I don’t know what that reason is.

      • Exile1981

        video games and school indoctrination?

        • A Hamilton Guy

          I’ll drink too that!

      • dukestreet

        I believe they may be affected by the ideas and attitudes of teachers etc. I know that staff in licensed day cares are not allowed to let children go to the bathroom on their own and a lot of other freedom eliminating activities. Try taking them somewhere where they have to be more independent and encourage them to take charge with some parts of it, Like camping or hiking and cooking over a fire.
        Let them go somewhere on their own, if they won’t , have them plan the route that they need to take to go & come back to/from somewhere they really want to go to and then get them to go on their own, while you travel on the same bus or whatever, but not with them. Just so that they can see you are there. if they did OK maybe tell them they can make it home on their own having gone one way. Give them a phone for emergencies & let them go. They will need to do this with small group of siblings , friends or cousins before they travel as just a couple or a few kids. Act like you know they can do it and act like you’re not at all surprised that they succeed at each step.

        That is something that my friends & I would do by ourselves at some of the larger city parks (Sunnybrook, Wilket Creek & Serena Gundy parks in Toronto. Gradually, give them more responsibility & expand the range until they are comfortable doing it all on their own, including choosing where to go and to do it with friends instead of with you.

        My father and uncle had more freedom than me. My grandfather would drive them out into the country, on Friday after work, with a bed roll, a knife and a little food and said ” See you Sunday night for supper. They would figure out where they were and start making their way home while exploring and fending for themselves. They really had a good time doing that. My dad is 90. There were no such thing as sleeping bags then.

        • Alain

          One of my young grandsons in southern California got into trouble at his preschool for pretending his hand was a gun and saying “bang, bang”. My son and my daughter-in-law got called in by the head of the preschool over this. I could see this stupidity happening in Canada but not in the United States.

          • dukestreet

            In general, I find that things happen in the US before Canada. The US most often leads the way.

  • bargogx1

    Sears was obviously mismanaged into the ground, but I’m not sure why he’s saying the problem was lack of “e-commerce”, since I’ve been ordering stuff online from them for years. Also, those “too large” stores he’s complaining about always seemed to be full of shoppers, until they stopped selling things that people wanted to buy. It wasn’t that they didn’t change to keep up with the times, the problem was that they did change – for the worse.

    • Exile1981

      Like when they moved their tools from NA made with a lift time warranty to chinese made with a 15 minute life span. Back in the day we used their tools in our fab shop because they lasted then after the switch they went down hill and became on par with all the other cheap chinese brands. I buy cheap chinese for through away things but I hated paying craftsmen prices for crap.

  • David Murrell

    I enjoyed shopping at our local Sears outlet, since I could get good-quality unpretentious men’s clothing at a decent price. Still, walking around the cavernous place seemed like a retro 1970s experience.

    One undisclosed issue is that Sears Canada might stiff its laid-off employees as to future pension benefits. One retiree I talked to is scared stiff.

    • terrence22

      I heard that Sears will do that – they ain’t got no money – none, zip,zero, nada.

  • simus1

    Back when most people knew the value of a dollar, Sears dealt in dull house brand reliable good value for money appliances built in Japan, Germany, Canada, and the USA. Back when they were a merchandising behemoth. The rest of their stuff was mostly on the same level.
    Like Eaton’s, the ones holding the purse strings at Sears could never get past the scary concession that they were on the wrong track going forward and it was going to cost a lot of financial pain and even (shudder) reinvestment of profits to really get a successful transition to a real world destination.

    So fancy future plans and planners came and went, always subject to growing lack of nerve or outright betrayal by their patrons.

  • canminuteman

    Sears going out of business has nothing to do with NAFTA. It was bad management and a changing retail market. Companies like Sears and Eaton’s were the Amazon’s of their day, and with more foresighed leadership would still be that. I hate the way that Amazon is becoming an all encompassing monster, but I find myself using them all the time. They have everything I need and they are way more convenient than going shopping at a mall. Those things are what made Sears great in the first place.

    • Alain

      I also use Amazon for purchasing books, CDs (music) and the odd DVD. That said I find it a shame that at least in my area and lots of other locations you can no longer find a good book store or music (CD) store. The reason is that far too many times I purchased a book on Amazon based on its description only to find it misleading and disappointing. The same goes for their music CDs. At least in an actual store I would flip through the book and in a short time know if it was what I was seeking or not. CDs the same thing in that you could listen to a few songs to know if you wanted it. With Amazon even when I purchased a CD based on the list of songs it contained, far too many times I discovered that it was crap in that it was a different arrangement and wrong performers. Other times the sound track was just crap. Yes, I know they have a return policy, but for me it isn’t worth the bother and expense to repackage it and mail it back to them at my cost. Oh, I should mention that I made the mistake of ordering a soft longbow case for my longbow based on the dimensions provided on Amazon only to find it was from 2 to 3 inches too short. Now I order a whole lot less from Amazon. Perhaps Amazon in the US is better since my experience is with the Canadian site. Almost forgot another extremely annoying thing with them. Several times they would list a book or whatever as available, but after ordering it and waiting a long, long time I get an e-mail saying they are still trying to obtain it. Why list it if they don’t have it or know they can get it? For music they used to provide a sample so you could listen to a bit of each track which allowed me to avoid the problem I mentioned, but they no longer do that at least for the music I am interested in.

      • canminuteman

        I agree with all your complaints about amazon. I used to have thousands of books to the point where I had nowhere to store them and I loved going to book stores. I gave most of my books away and now mostly buy ebooks. I can read them on my phone when I have down time at work and they don’t take up space. I think most ebooks are overpriced given that no one has to actually make, store, and distribute them, but that’s another issue.

        An example of why I love amazon is that the other day our coffee grinder crapped out. It was Monday, I wouldn’t get a chance to go buy a new one until the weekend, and then I would have had to spend a Saturday afternoon traipsing around the mall looking for a new one. Instead a went to amazon, bought one based on other peoples reviews and had it Wednesday. It took me ten minutes, I had it three days earlier than I could have gone shopping for one and it didn’t kill half my Saturday.

        • Alain

          Yes, for some things Amazon does fulfil a need, and for some things I continue to buy from them. I just do not do it as often nor without good reason after my experience.

    • A Hamilton Guy

      Amazon will go broke waiting for me.

  • DMB

    The recent renovations of Sears or what they called it as WTS What The Sears was a complete disaster. Sears decided to replace their larger sized shelves with a series of much smaller ones RANDOMLY placed rather than the traditional isle style. It was difficult to identify what merchandise was in which section. Sears got squeezed of the market by higher end retailers such as the Bay and lower end retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Winners, Marshalls. I do not believe that e-commerce was the primary factor considering I am still seeing new retail outlets being constructed to this day. E-commerce will NEVER replace the shopping experience of personally handling and examining merchandise or the shopping environment that malls provide. E-commerce will be NICHE market at best for purchasing items that one will not find in local retail stores. I do feel bad for the employees losing their jobs and those who’s pensions are at risk since many of them had a defined benefits plan which was dependent on how much the employer contributed rather than a defined contributions plan which is more market based where the employer would only match what employees would contribute if the market was under preforming. Also defined contribution plan are not managed by the employer but by a 3rd party making it very difficult for the plan to go default if the employer went out of business.