Deep in the report, there is a prophetic quote from a Sears executive in 1989:
“The issue really isn’t success or failure,” Sears then-chairman Edward Brennan said in 1989, according to the “The Attention Merchants,” a book about media and marketing. “It’s really a question of how big a success we’re going to be.”
Take a moment to marvel at that statement. That was Sears’ outlook in 1989, as it had been probably since the turn of the century.
Skip ahead one year.
In 1990, Walmart passed Sears as the country’s largest retailer by sales, according to the WSJ piece.
I’ve written extensively about Amazon in our life in past blog entries. But what about Sears?
We still use our Sears drill that Jim bought in the 1980s, and it works flawlessly. We bought the tires currently on our cars from Sears, and the appliances that came with our home are Kenmore. No complaints. When I was a child, I received a Sears tape recorder and it was one of my most treasured possessions — I still have recordings of my mom’s voice as a result of that machine.
How do we put a tangible value on intangible things like that from a retailer that gave you priceless memories? Things aren’t people, to be clear, but things can bring the memories of certain people back to you. And I think that’s why people still quietly root for Sears, or Kmart. You could live with or without the stores in their present-day forms, but the memories attached to them, for many people, are something else entirely.