In a move that was not unexpected, Sears Holdings Corp. filed for Bankruptcy on Monday. The store that was one a huge name in retail and one of THE places to be to get just about everything has been running into problems for years, and many customers found it was only a matter of time before the lagging store brand would make the legal motion to cover its debts and try to solve its woes.
The founder of the name, Richard Sears, first started the business back in the 1880’s by selling watches. The company was first launched in 1893 and by 1906 they went public and was housed in the (then) World’s Largest building in Chicago. They were also long known for the large catalogs they would send out to customers to show off all the products they were selling. Sears became one of the biggest names in getting goods for your home.
That stood for over 100 years and were doing well against other big-name retailers as the years went by. However, with Wal-Mart taking over the retail market in the early 2000’s, retailer K-mart bought out Sears in 2005 for over $11 Billion Dollars. This formed Sears Holding Company. The partnership started out with high hopes but that didn’t take long to fade away. Sears Holding was not only competing with Wal-mart and other store brands, but they were also competing with online retailers like Amazon or online auction houses like eBay.
As the 2000’s turned into the 2010’s thing did not get better for the retailer and it looked more like the combination of Sears and K-mart wasn’t nearly a fruitful as was first thought. Many stores around the country were being closed, especially in places that had both a Sears and a K-mart. Store brands like Craftsman tools were eventually sold to other companies as a way to make some extra money as well.
And personally, I worked for a K-mart for 4 years during this time. There was not a lot of the employees to be hopeful about either. We were told for years that K-mart was not allowed to give out any raises to employees. Soon nobody was brought to a full-time hours position and the ones that were made to get new jobs in lesser positions in hopes they would leave. Promotions from within the store were almost unheard of. And the emphasis became less about selling products and filling you money till, but become more and more about selling credit cards and points cards.
Multiple times a year the company would release lists of store closers from around the United States and many locations were shut down in money-saving moves. The locations where I am in Central Maine had both a Sears and a K-mart since the K-mart opened in the mid 70’s. The Sears location opened even earlier in the early 1960s as an anchor to a Mall. The Sears location closed its doors in early 2017.
There has been no official announcement yet as to what will happen to Sears Holding with the filing. It is assumed that more stores will be closed. If there is anything left after that, a major reorganization of the company will happen but to what degree isn’t known.
It is also a mystery as to when any of thins will start taking place. Many times such big moves would be held off until after the major holidays season. Many of the Sears store over the years were not announced as closing until after the Christmas holiday rush and all the money brought in was counted. With this filing happening in the middle of October, the effects of this bankruptcy may be felt sooner than the end of the year holiday season.
No matter what the future may bring or how much of the company that once dominated the market will close. But it is looking like those that work for the company may be in for a rough winter.