Sad Sinking Sears

Soon, Sears points will be offered on a carton of eggs and a block of cheese. The struggling retailer is getting into the already crowded grocery game. It’s an admitted act of sheer desperation to save Sears but they don’t have a product problem, they have a marketing problem. 

It’s been decades since Sears was the home of old-lady dresses and formidable bras and girdles you could use as backdrops for hockey nets. It has really changed over the years and has been my go-to for window coverings, appliances and even fashions from some of my fave lines including Jones New York and Nygard. I go there first for Aersoles shoes and PJs. I’ve purchased cool, trendy short-sleeved shirts for hubby. They offer tremendous discounts sometimes, coupled with scratch-and-save promotions. I’ve purchased good stuff so cheaply that it’s made me wonder how they’re keeping the lights on.

Robinson's department store in Burlington in 1959Their recent slogans – there’s more for your life at Sears, come see the softer side of Sears – are the marks of a chicken-shit company! They want to bring in younger shoppers but they’re afraid to alienate the older folks who miss Eatons, Woolco, Simpsons, KMart, Zellers, Kresge and Robinson’s and just want one thing in their lives to stay the same. The company blew it. Have they learned nothing from Target’s experience in this country? Time marches on.

They ought to have come right out and said we’re not your Grandma’s department store anymore. They changed their merchandise – to a point – and changed their target customer. They also started carrying lines from Jessica Simpson aimed at twenty-somethings. What twenty-three-year old shops at Sears? Exactly.

The company has been drowning in red ink for years but instead of finding some sort of focus, the top dogs have decided to do another costly round of renovations, add a grocery department and sell off Craftsman tools to Black and Decker. If this turns things around, I’ll eat my modestly priced designer handbag. It may be too late, and the retail landscape is now mostly online. Sears keeps putting out expensive catalogues while people surf the internet and find better pictures, more detail and easy shopping. They need to acknowledge their image problem and do something about that, instead. Make it fun. Create TV ads around a ‘secret society of Sears shoppers’. Younger middle-age women who confess that whatever great thing they’re wearing came from Sears, and how their friends have no idea! Make it desirable to check them out. Hire salespeople under the age of 80 for a change. It’s going to be a sad day when Sears goes the way of Canada’s other department stores, into the, ‘do you remember when’, file.

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