Sears was once the largest retailer in the world. Now they’re allegedly facing bankruptcy.
The company hasn’t made a profit in eight years, and is reportedly $134 million in debt. According to a CNBC report, they’ve made contact with several banks in preparation for their bankruptcy filing.
Eddie Lampert, the company CEO, has been funding Sears through funds that come form his own hedge fund for years. It’s possible that they can postpone bankruptcy for a few months with an offer from ESL to buy Sears’ appliance brand Kenmore. This isn’t the first time that the company has sold one of their brands; in 2017, they sold Crafstman to help keep themselves afloat.
Sears Redefined the American Shopping Experience
This Sears bankruptcy is a major indication of just how disrupted the shopping world is now that e-commerce – namely Amazon – exists. Their shares have fallen more than 85 percent in the past year, despite their attempts to climb onto the life raft of Jeff Bezos’ online shopping behemoth.
They paired with Amazon in 2017 to sell their legendary appliances online, but they’ve been outpaced by the investments and changes made by stores like Target and Walmart. The company is 125-years-old, and was once a staple of the American mall and a booming brick and mortar economy. In the past year alone, they shuttered doors at over 100 stores, and plan to close 46 more next month.
But Sears has had a major place in the history of American shopping.
The company got its start as many great stories do: by an accidental twist of fate.
In 1886, a railways station agent named Richard W. Sears bought a shipment of watches that a local jeweler wouldn’t sign for. He then established what we could today call a side hustle, selling the watchers to other station agents. The business model took off, and before he knew it, he had a full-blown company.
A year later he moved the business to Chicago, and brought a watchmaker named Alvah C. Roebuck into the equation. Together, they moved from watches to a full catalogue of offerings for rural Americans, who could only previously buy such items from the local general store. Sears allured these customers to transition to department-store shopping, where costs were considerably lower.
No matter what happens, there’s no denying that the company had a major impact on the American shopping landscape.
How often do you visit Sears?
Data Source: history.com, nbcnews.com