Childhood Memories of Shopping at Sears; It Was A Big Deal
The news of Sears finally filing for bankruptcy today wasn't a surprise. We've been seeing stories for a long time, with the latest ominous headlines last week pretty much telling us what was coming.
My guess is, for anyone under the age of 50, its really no big deal. If you read the analysis today, some brick and mortar giants are doing quite well, thank you.. Target, Walmart and Home Depot are making their cash registers sing. One article summed it up well; Sears' financial wounds were self-inflicted. But you have to remember how big Sears was. Sears was not only it's retail empire, (and remember, even with more stores closing, there are still over 600 remaining) But Sears was also the Sears Catalog. Sears was Allstate. Sears was a giant. It wasn't a destination like "the mall". It was the destination.
This imminent demise of Sears is just sad. Not just for the very real reason that many good people will lose their jobs, (and while some claim the economy is thriving, the truth is it's not thriving, certainly not for the working class) but also because another giant pillar from our childhoods will soon be gone.
For some in the Kalamazoo area, shopping at Sears once meant a store on Michigan Ave, at Portage Rd. Later it was the location on Crosstown Parkway, that now houses the Kalamazoo Public Safety operations. In Battle Creek, Sears was on Capital Ave., home to Horrock's now. Anyone younger has only memories of the Crossroads and Lakeview Square Mall locations, which are struggling, though Lakeview Square more so..
The Sears store I grew up with was in Chicago, at North Avenue and Harlem. The Crosstown and Capital Ave. stores had a similar feel to it. The first memories it evokes for me is that of shopping for clothing. I was not a frail child. We shopped for "husky" sizes. And before getting to the boys' department, you'd pass the nut counter, where you'd get hot salted cashews.
It also meant going with dad to the tool department. Craftsmen, that was Sears' tool brand. And those tools were guaranteed; guaranteed for life. There's something powerful about the sound of that.
We got appliances at Sears. Homart and Kenmore were the Sears brands. Can't blame the ugly avocado color of the fridge on them, or can we?
And because it was the 60's, every boy wanted to be a rock and roller. My folks got me my first guitar at Sears. It was "Silvertone". Silvertone was Sears' consumer electronics and musical instruments brand. We got our first color TV around 1968. It was a Silvertone.
My parents got their cars worked on at Sears. They had auto insurance from Allstate. I got auto insurance from Allstate, too, when I left home.
Sears was a big part of our lives. Now it's a shell of its former self. General Motors went bankrupt a decade ago. Many of the same reasons as Sears, but there's no point kicking them when they're down. I'll leave that to smarter people than me.
But as I said, just sad.