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Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Half Fast, Oct 15, 2018.
...bites the dust.
This should cue my investment advisor to "you have several shares of Sears, it's probably time to sell..."
There’s a lesson here: Never forget who your core audience is.
Sears used to be overalls and tires and tools and hardware and appliances and lawnmowers. Even guns and motorcycles. I used to LOVE just browsing the Craftsman tool section and spent a literal fortune there over the years.
Then they thought to expand their image, with “The Softer Side Of Sears”.
I guess the upside was the pictures in the lingerie section...or so I’ve been told!
Somewhere I have a reproduction of the 1903 (I think) Sears catalog. It is beyond entertaining!
There’s real danger in a company trying to be all things to all people. People quickly forget what you stood for in the first place.
I felt the same way when Gold’s Gym changed their byline from “Serious Fitness” to “Results For Every Body”.
Oh well, so it goes...
I recall as a kid perusing the Sears Wishbook every year at Christmas time, dreaming about everything from microscopes to minibikes.
I have a roll around tool chest full of Craftsman hand tools. I assume B&D will honor the warranty but I haven’t tried it.
I know Sears once sold almost everything through the catalog, including automobiles and houses, but did they ever sell airplanes? Seems like the Ercoupe once sold in department stores.
I think in 1903 the choice of airplanes might have been a bit limited!
But not a few years later. I can’t remember that far back, though, so I’ll defer to your greater experience.
While you were dreaming of microscopes and minibikes, @eman1200 was thumbing through the "soft pron" section of the catalog...
thanks, I'll be right back...….
And the "man on page 602"
The Sears catalog was the interweb of it's time.
Ours closed a few months ago. Not that it mattered. It had been a ghost town the last few years anyway.
Yeah, I liked the catalog too. And I hate to see a company like that go under. It was like Lampert did it on purpose. I just can't fathom why. Retail's a tough business now, more so than ever. Almost impossible to compete against Amazon, Wal-Mart, HD, Lowe's, etc. But I think they could have done it.
The experiences I've had with them the last few years:
* Ordered a computer online. It was supposed to arrive in-store in a week. Half an hour after I placed the order I got an email that it was in. I figured maybe the store had one in stock so I took off work early and drove over to pick it up. Waited half an hour for the guy to look for it, to no avail. Each day for the next week I got the same "your order is ready to be picked up" email, each day with the same result. I finally asked for the store manager, only to be told he was busy. The ass't manager got snotty with me and said maybe I'd be happier shopping somewhere else.
* Bought a dishwasher, only to get it home to find that it requires a special Kenmore adapter for the supply line hookup. Back to the store, but by then they were closed. The next day I asked the guy why it's not included w/ every dishwasher since it's a REQUIRED item. And why the salesman neglected to mention at the time that I might want to buy one.
* I went to buy dad a Christmas present last year and they couldn't find my account in their computer system. I said I didn't really care, I was paying cash and just wanted to get on with my shopping. Apparently they can't sell you anything w/o them being able to find you in their system. It took twenty minutes from start to finish - what should have been a one-minute transaction.
You can only have so many bad experiences with a store. Oddly, I still made my wife walk with me through the store every time she drug me to the mall. (I'm confident that w/o Sears she'd have made me walk through the mall with her a lot more often, so there is that.)
I remember that for a long time, even into the late 80's, the only credit card Sears would accept was their own.
A few months after I graduated college and started working full time (1984), I applied for a few credit cards. Got an AmEx, a Visa, and a Chevron card. Applied for a Sears card and they turned me down. A year or two later they started trying to get me to open a Sears account every time I bought something but I adamantly refused. Never did open one.
Yeah, similar stories here.
I had a Craftsman torque wrench break, and Sears told me that a torque wrench wasn't a "hand tool" and wasn't covered by the lifetime warranty.
I had a Sears garage door opener at my last house. Pizz-poor design used nylon gears, which turned into nylon dust a month or two after the warranty ran out. Sears wanted some ridiculous amount to repair it, so I bought new gears and fixed it myself. Of course, the replacement gears also crumbled, and rebuilding the opener became an annual ritual.
Then there was the Kenmore washer and dryer....
The local Sears store here closed a couple years ago. The girl that was running it used the store as her personal pickup bar.
I was shopping for a fridge and went to Sears to see what they had. I think the 3rd question this girl asked me was are you married... I looked at her and said I don't think it really matters. My mistake. She proceeded to describe her sex life to me.
And her sex life, like her looks, were not pretty. I put up with it because they had what I was looking for in my price range.
Do you mean her or the fridge?
I just threw up a little in my mouth thinking of that.....
I have met some total disgusting folks in my life, and she was probably in the top 10.
Did I just walk into the Matrix? Because all I see are 1s and 0s!
Hence my deep and irreversible hatred for "Made in China".
First credit card I applied for out of college. Tools, of course. I was going to pay cash as I built my supply of tools, but my parents suggested getting the Sears card and paying it off every month to build credit.
Mom & Dad had the same experience in the early 60's. Dad was honked off about it until the day he died. Never applied for another Sears card, and that guy loved his plastic!
Another thing that jumps out at me is that Sears was catalog sales for most of it's existence, yet what is online shopping? It's essentially catalog sales!
You're right! The more things change the more they stay the same:
"Before the Sears catalog, farmers near small rural towns usually purchased supplies – often at high prices and on credit – from local general stores with narrow selections of goods. Prices were negotiated, and relied on the storekeeper's estimate of a customer's creditworthiness. Sears took advantage of this by publishing catalogs offering customers a wider selection of products at clearly stated prices." ...From wiki
Sounds familiar. Walmart killing small stores and now online ordering killing Walmart, if it doesn't get its act together real soon.
The thing that actually kills large businesses is simply the fact that they got large, the originators are long dead, and they ran out of succeeding visionaries that kept it moving with the times. Sears should have foreseen the internet back when Bezos did, but it was already too massive and congealed.
That was pretty much my experience. I was trying to buy things for my first apartment and later a house. Sears was the go-to place because it had everything under one roof. But every time I'd try to buy something I'd remember why I would end up going somewhere else - they wouldn't take anything other than a Sears card or a check (or cash). I wasn't into racking up credit card debt, I'd pay it off every month, but that didn't mean I'd always have enough in my checking account to cover a big purchase on any particular day.
I got the same answer when my torque wrench let go. At least they were consistent, I thought the guy behind the counter was an idiot. Someone up the line in finance/accounting decided that because it had moving parts it was no longer a hand tool? Probably saved a ton of return expenditures and reaped the CEO a hefty bonus.
They changed that one at some point. I did have an early clicker torque wrench that failed, and Sears did replace it. I later learned that torque wrenches were no longer covered. Luckily the three I have still work well.
In the early 90's I was just starting a family and the Sears Credit was one of the best deals around. I hated Credit Cards and never thought of my Sears Card as a Credit Card. For one I never had it on me and they would just look up my account. 2nd it was structured to actually have you pay off the balance even with minimum payments. They wanted to pay it off so you could buy more stuff. They day the sent me a new Sears "VISA" card to replace my old one was the day I cut it up, started paying off my sears account and rarely ever went back.
Their store brands went to hell when they switched from 'quality at a good price' to 'Harbor Fright at premium prices'.
Bought a Kenmore 'blue egg' vacuum. Compact but has good suckage. Plenty enough for my apartment dweller life. Then I needed a second one, saw one at the store and picked it up. Same price as the first one, but apparently from a different contract manufacturer. Cheap plastic, everything broke off, poor performance and lasted maybe two years.
The irony is that they were the retail disruptor of their time. The catalog to compete with local retail, the move to mall locations away from downtown department stores etc. Went to the store a couple of months ago and it was a ghost town.
If there's something wrong with your product, it's management's fault.
At the other end of the spectrum the only vacuum Mom had was an Interstate Compact Vacuum. Literally indestructible! I don't know how many times that thing went down the steps like a bowling ball, but it was a lifetime purchase. Purchased in 1960, my brother still has it and it still works perfectly.
I think they hooked up with Discover [the "new guy" card] in the early 1980s. I got one, because they used a beautiful woman to pitch it, and I'm an idiot. I did get a free calculator, however.
I think that's right, I forgot about the Discover card.
Maybe a year ago I went to their Maryville, TN store and it was the same.
To see the reduced tool department was depressing.
It was never a hand tool, even three decades ago. That doesn't mean that the guy behind the counter wouldn't swap it, because he didn't know.
Back in the 1960s my brother and I wanted tape recorders for Christmas. Mom and Dad selected a couple out of the Sears catalog and ordered them. Out of stock, so they sent the next ones up in quality and price. No extra charge.
A year or so later I wanted a pair of walkie talkies. Got them from Sears. One didn't work, so they replaced the pair. One of those died, so they replaced them again, with the next pair up the line. One of those died. Wound up with a pair worth twice the original price and they worked fine.
Split a socket from a set of Craftsman sockets. No problem, the local Sears replaced it, no questions asked. The same for a pair of Craftsman linemen's pliers. 40 years ago.
Needed a new battery for a car about 20 years ago. Wanted the cheapest battery Sears sold as the car wasn't worth anything. The only one they had in the right size was a top of the line Diehard. Got it for the sales price of the cheapest battery.
Now, recent experiences. My daughter and son-in-law bought a Kenmore Elite refrigerator. Made by LG. Bought a service contract with it (transferable to the next party to own the refrigerator). We bought the refrigerator from them when they moved to a house that had one. While the service contract was in force the refrigerator died in a non-repairable fashion. Sears replaced it (well, they gave us a bunch of money which my wife used to buy a new Kenmore Elite refrigerator). 5 year warranty. A few months beyond the 5 years was out the refrigerator died. Several months and 3 service attempts later the failure was finally diagnosed as a leak in the coolant tubes in the structure of the refrigerator, non-repairable. Based on the new service contract we had purchased they gave us the choice of a new unit or cash. We took the cash and bought a FrigidAir from a local store. I like the features of the LG, but reliability sucks.
Had to buy some new heat diffusers for our Kenmore gas BBQ. Need new grills, too, but those aren't available anymore. Rats, it's still working fine, but there are a couple bars in the grill that have broken. It isn't that old, but some parts are made of unobtainium.
Sears is going downhill, fast. Too bad, they used to be great and always left me wondering why I didn't do more business with them. Those days are gone.
Back around 1990 or so, I was scuba diving somewhere off Boynton Beach. In about 60' of water I happened to find a Craftsman adjustable wrench that probably fell off a boat. Corroded, encrusted with growth, it had obviously been in the water for a long time. What the heck - I stuck it in my BC pocket and brought it up. Took it the Sears tool counter the next day, told the guy exactly where I got the wrench and what had happened to it. "No problem." Handed me a brand new wrench.
Based on that type of service and warranty, I proceeded to acquire a large chest full of Craftsman tools over the next couple of years. For the cost of one wrench, they got over a thousand bucks in sales.
Too bad most companies don't see things that way any more. I'll miss the old Sears, but sadly not what it seems to have become.
I remember helping my father do the same repair on a Craftsman garage door opener. Sheared nylon gear sets. I don’t think they failed in the first 5 or 6 years, but it was still a pain nonetheless.
I used to buy craftsman tools, then moved to their Craftsman Professional line once the quality of the regular stuff went down. I’d still buy sockets or other mundane items from Craftsman, but there are certainly better values at the same price point from other brands (tool chests, power tools, etc.)
There isn’t another thing I have bought from Sears other than tools in over a decade. Whomever was in charge of their clothing/decor purchasing decisions should have been fired decades ago.
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Speaking of Walmart and Ercoupes.
My dad has a vacuum cleaner built in the 1930s. It has a permanent fabric bag filter and sounds like a helicopter engine. The only job it had when I grew up was to collect rock dust or shavings while drilling holes.
A couple of years ago a buddy tipped me off to some closeout kayaks at Sears. It was the last time I went to Sears. Here's my experience buying a kayak from Sears :
1) I walk into store.... there's no humans in sight.
2) I quickly locate the kayaks and determine that yup, it'll do the job and the price is right
3) no humans in sight
4) I have to wander about the store to find a cashier who is busy staring at his phone near a cash register
5) I tell him I want to buy a kayak
6) After a few minutes on the store phone or maybe ?cash register? he determine that no other cashiers are available to help me
7) He reluctantly agrees to follow me over to the kayak area
8) I ask if it's ok to sit in the boat on the floor for a test fit... no problem. mission accomplished. the fit is fine
9) I point out that the boat doesn't have any of the paperwork that is attached to other boats
10) He says he'll go look. Vanishes into back room. Comes back 10 minutes later. No paperwork
11) I say I'll buy it.
12) I ask if I can pay and carry the boat out
13) He says I'm not allowed to carry the boat. The crew will have it ready for me to pick up in the shipping dept.
14) I follow him back across the store to his favorite cash register
15) He then proceeds with the spiel
16) Are you in the sears-favored-shopper program?
17) Would you like to open a Sears-branded charge account?
18) Do you want to purchase an extended warrenty?
19) Just give me your email address, dammit!
20) I'm almost ****ed off enough to leave
21) I calm down, pay with credit card and get directions to the loading dock
22) I drive car around to loading dock, go inside the package pickup area
23) no humans in sight
24) I have to log into a system where I am required to type in an umteem digit long order number
25) My name now appears in lights on a screen showing a list of orders and scheduled delivery time
26) my name is the only one on the list but the scheduled delivery time is from 15-30 minutes
27) ~10 minutes later some dude brings my kayak out the swinging doors
28) another dude comes out... they both offer to help load it on the jeep. I think they were fishing for tips
It took over an hour to purchase a fn kayak
I did the same thing, except for the credit card. I took a bank loan. I bought the "professional" tool kit, top and bottom box filled with tools from Sears. For the next several years I bought Craftsmen tools. Until the day I walked in to replace a broken socket. I was told they no longer broke open packages to replace broken tools and will have to order a single socket, be here in a week. I said I can't wait a week. They said the only options are you can buy either the whole set to get the one socket or wait a week for the one socket.
I said there is another option. They were interested. I said it is called Snap On...... And Snap On got my business from then until I quit mechaniking.
And several weeks ago, one of the 30+ year old Snap On phillips screw drivers became too worn out to use. I saw a Snap On truck, went in and asked if he could fix it for me. He tried to remove the handle a couple times, then threw it into his return box, grabbed a brand new screw driver off the shelf and handed it to me.