The answer is of course not since the company goes by Sears (founded in 1886) which is the founder’s name – Richard W. Sears. I posted about Sears a little over a year ago – http://wp.me/pn6jX-y6 and had not been in a store since December 2011. This past Sunday my wife and I needing a new vacuum decided to shop at Sears. Coincidentally it was reported Monday that hedge fund star Edward Lampert (ESL investments) has decided to fully take the reins of the embattled retailer. Mr. Lampert holds the largest equity position in Sears so at the very least has major skin in the game. After shopping there on Sunday the task of rehabilitating Sears remains enormous and in fact may be impossible.
It’s not as if we had a bad experience shopping for a vacuum at Sears. Like most people today we went online to check out various models, and places that retailed those models. Since we had not purchased a vacuum in more than twenty years we were at the very least going to move up to twenty-first century technology. We walked in the store just after opening (10AM on a Sunday morning) in New Hyde Park, Long Island. The first thing we noticed is the store was clean, relatively empty and had the appearance of being exactly the same as it might have looked in 1968. Undaunted we headed downstairs to the appliance area.
We found the vacuums rather easily and were surprised to see three other customers shopping for vacuums. There was no sale going on that we were aware of. There was a saleswoman in the area that had to be in her sixties (at least). But this woman knew her stuff. The saleswoman demonstrated a couple of models for all of us and at least two customers (including us) bought on the spot. A bit overwhelmed she had to call in for reinforcements to handle the ‘rush’ of customers. The help came quickly and took our order on a handheld digital device. We were in and out of there in less than thirty minutes.
In reading about Sears over the past few days it came to light that in order to raise cash Sears has been selling prime real estate locations, closing stores and shedding employees. What Sears is left with are tired looking stores in less-than-prime areas. Mr. Lampert certainly has his work cut out for him.
My wife mentioned that the only thing she’d think of buying at Sears would be an appliance. The Kenmore brand is still well-regarded (as is the Craftsman tool line). Keep in mind that you don’t have to go to Sears to buy either Kenmore or Craftsman as other retail outlets carry those labels. That’s probably a good thing since I can’t see anyone under thirty walking into Sears for much of anything at all. My guess is that a significant number of people under thirty have never been to a Sears store at all.
The Sears brand is in dire need of a refresh to put it mildly. One thought I have in mind is that if Sears really does renovate its stores and updates the look the name should be updated too. It may seem a little crazy (ok a lot crazy) but how about calling it Searz? One single letter change would signify an updated brand and hopefully capture the attention of a younger generation enough to give it a try. However it only would have a chance to work if the store interiors were completely updated.
What do you think – does Sears (or Searz) have a chance to survive?