The word is out, our Sears store is among the 150 stores being closed as the
department store financial institution holding company orphaned co-brand of K-mart Big-K, makes it easier for the corporate pallbearers to shovel it into the retail graveyard. Do I sound angry? I’m not, really. I’m disappointed, but Sears has been disappointing me for years, and our Sears store has been closing for years. Going there was a sad walk through a fading landscape, like the airport in Steven King’s “The Langoliers” – you kept thinking that somewhere, behind that wall, or down that aisle, was some activity, or maybe some new products, or maybe a sales person. But no. Hooks that were empty the last time you were there, would still be empty.
I think I first mentioned Sears in the very first post in my “If We Were Having a Beer” series. I was complaining that they didn’t have casual slacks in 38w 34l. They still don’t. Once, in frustration, I asked the clerk, who replied: “I can order them online and have them shipped to you for free.” I took her up on that offer, only to find that they didn’t have the size online either. I could get 36×34, a size I’m unlikely to ever see again, or 40×34, a size I’m sure I could achieve if I set my mind to it. It always bothered me that I could get 38×29, 38×30, 38×32, and 40×34 but not 38×34. Was I too tall or not heavy enough? I digress.
In addition to dying a slow death, Sears hasn’t been Sears for a very long time. In some cases, Sears was never Sears. Craftsman Tools were never made by Sears. Neither were Kenmore appliances, or Diehard batteries, but there was a time when that didn’t matter. I shopped at Sears because my father shopped at Sears. He shopped at Sears because the sales people knew what they were taking about, their products were good, their warranties were better and you could get Sears stuff anywhere.
I liked Sears because they often incorporated interesting features, like push-to-release ratchets and self-storing cords. I didn’t like Sears because they often made things a little different, so you had to go to Sears. I once owned a 7 ½” circular saw. It was almost identical to a 7 ¼” Skill Saw, but if you wanted that extra eight of an inch capacity – something you never needed – you had to go to Sears. Similarly, if you wanted a guide bushing for your Sears router, you had to go to Sears. But, they were the first manufacturer that I knew of that put a light in the router so you could see your cut, up close. Of course, if that bulb ever burned out…you get the picture.
We still have a Kenmore refrigerator; I think it was made by Whirlpool. We have a KitchenAid dishwasher, a Whirlpool dryer and I don’t know who made the washing machine, but we bought them all at Sears. We have a Sears garage door opener, which was made by Chamberlin, but I liked that I could go to the store and buy an extra bipper thingie to open it. Except, they stopped carrying that kind of stuff.
They stopped carrying blades for my Sears scroll saw. I didn’t buy that saw from Sears, I bought it from a neighbor whose husband died. I think I paid her $1 more than he paid Sears, but I stink at negotiating.
I knew the store was really dying when the sales staff stopped telling me that they could order the stuff online and told me to go home and order it online. Then, they might add: “I think you can get those from Amazon.” Of course I can get them from Amazon. I can get everything from Amazon because Amazon has brought the entire retail equation down to a single variable – price.
We still have a Sears we can go to, but it’s in the Holyoke Mall in Massachusetts. I won’t buy appliances there, because then I have to figure out the difference between MA sales tax and CT’s and remit the difference to CT with my state income tax. There’s a Sears in a nearby CT shopping mall, but I hate going to that mall because of the traffic.
The Sears Auto Center will remain open, but I don’t take my car there. At some point, it may be the only thing open at our local mall. Macy’s closed last year. Radio Sack, does anyone remember Radio Shack? Target remains open, but it’s not really in the mall, only barely attached to one side.
Yesterday, when I was getting some photos, I saw a parking lot full of cars in front of where Macy’s had been. I thought, maybe a new store was opening. Sadly, a car dealership opened inside the mall.
Maybe, once the last few stores close, they can film a Blues Brothers chase scene in Enfield. You have to look for the bright side.
If you want to see the possible future of this place: