Latest store news not good… no win-win here


2017 was greeted with some interesting news. Not good news… not unexpected news… and yet, certainly interesting news.

Big stores… you know the ones, names and brands that were so significant they carried the term “anchor” in descriptions concerning their presence and contributions to malls around the world… are fighting to avoid following the dinosaurs into extinction.

This essay is not about exploring the how and why and more of the potential journey to the tar pits of retail history. Instead, I want to point toward recent days, filled with news of Macy’s prepping closures of more than six dozen stores, while Sears/Kmart add about one hundred and fifty locked doors. The Macy’s announcements include estimates of roughly 10,000 jobs being cut.

When I was younger… or at least in days gone by… there were stores like Jordan Marsh, Ames, G. Fox, The Outlet and more. We would see Eckerd, Woolworth’s, Circuit City and such.

The idea to take from these names is that businesses closing… national, easily recognized, multiple locations, huge businesses closing… is nothing new. It happens all the time. It happened generations ago. It is happening now. And, in some tomorrow, to several brands for reasons unexpected today, it will happen again.

And yet, the idea that the internet has changed shopping and the way we do business is both: (1) A valid observation and quite true, and, (2) a weak excuse.

More to the reality is that change arrived. Perhaps people no longer wanted the product… perhaps people no longer wanted to shop in the physical or world-wide-web store… whatever fill-in-the-blank hurdle came about. Change arrived. And the going out of business was a result, singularly or jointly, of not providing a product people wanted to buy, not presenting a shop people wished to visit, and not clearing the unexpected hurdles.

I mention all of this because of a very weird twist I spotted in the story of Sears. Allow me to summarize it with this question:

What if Sears is no longer the company of Craftsman?

We can debate the details in a million different ways, but I just want you to think about that question as stated. Just as a simple observation. Because the top of the corporate group, Sears Holdings, has sold the Craftsman name/brand/empire/toolbox to Stanley. (Ok, officially… in a really funny scenario that only heightens the beauty of this essay… Craftsman now belongs not to Stanley, but to Stanley Black & Decker. We are not going further down that path though.)

To me, and my untrained eye that has not been invited into the corporate boardroom, this is roughly the equivalent of trying to assist with fundraising to pay your car registration by selling your car.

Ok… perhaps that’s a stretch. Other articles I’ve seen discuss how Sears will still have Craftsman products on their store shelves, and those same articles cover additional transfer details. So maybe… just maybe… there’s a bit of a business dealings and decisions here I simply do not understand. After all, figuratively the car still appears to be, technically, in the driveway.

But for how long? (And back to keeping the question simple and not wandering around in the details.)

Once Craftsman is gone, exactly what does Sears possess under its umbrella? Kmart?

That might seem like a comparison featuring apples and oranges, but the reality is this: Sears Holdings is planning on closing dozens upon dozens of stores. About 150 will be emptied and locked up in the next three months… closed by March of 2017. Exactly what shelves are there going to be in years to come for displaying those Craftsman tools? (And how long will that not-even-a-billion-dollars from the sale of Craftsman keep Sears Holdings operational?)

Often in business dealings, and even personal relationships, one of the most basic elements in comprehending what’s taking place comes from spotting the motivation… and to that end, we’ll call it finding the win-win area. If we want to assume the best, meaning that both sides are going to benefit from a transaction, then there needs to be an actual benefit.

In this case, for Sears Holdings, the only thing I see is a delay of the inevitable. For whatever the reasons… soon it might just be… Caldor and Lechmere and Sears. (Oh my.)

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