I remember buying at Sears stores when I was a kid. The stores were always crisp and clean. Their shelves were well-stocked. Sears prices tended to be high, but they sold quality. For example, Craftsman tools were about as good as you could get and carried a lifetime guarantee. You couldn’t beat ‘em.
Four years ago, about Christmas, I stopped in at a Sears store at Dallas. I was shocked. The carpets were dirty. The shelves were only partly stocked and what was there was mostly junk. There were only a few employees, but almost no customers. The store was grubby. It was clearly a corporation headed for bankruptcy.
Today, I read an article in DealBook entitled “For Once-Mighty Sears, Pictures of Decay”. The article chronicled the author’s visits to several Sears stores–all of which were as shabby as the Dallas store I’d seen four years ago:
When Brian Sozzi, the chief executive of Belus Capital Advisors, visited Sears locations in New York and New Jersey this month, he said, he found barren shelves, haphazard displays and badly stained carpets.
Also missing: customers.
“It’s just badness throughout,” Mr. Sozzi said in an interview. “Every store has something fundamentally wrong with it.”
What’s wrong with Sears? Why has this one-time corporate giant fallen on bad times?