As Sears Holdings Corporation, owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, I think of how they impacted the world. They invented department stores as we know it. Everything Amazon is, everything Alibaba Group is, Sears already was. Years ago, mentions of them might’ve filled inspirational speeches because of their stability and familiarity. We think of America and thoughts of they probably were close behind.
Two decades ago, they mattered. Their story was America’s story but now, America has moved on. Time waits for no one. Americana no longer.
Their long slide into irrelevance ought be a caution to all business institutions. A shift in perspective here, a change in process there, and who knows what company is next? The Coca-Cola Company? McDonald’s? Walmart? Maybe.
Sears missed opportunities and made mistakes. Articles will fill the likes of Harvard Business Review for decades as readers hope to learn how to avoid a similar demise.
No company can say, “Nope, won’t happen,” without remembering it wasn’t that long ago we waited for The Wish Book in the mail. We flipped through each page, wondering what could be. Even Amazon hasn’t grabbed our dreams this way.
I’ll be shopping one last time this Christmas at Sears this year. I’ll be thinking of days long gone looking at toasters and TVs with my mom during trips to Chicago. And I’ll be sad.
Great speeches that manifest the American Dream will continue even as one of its institutions fades away.