If you’re reading this, you probably don’t shop at Sears. You’re a modern, information-savvy consumer and you think of Sears as your parents’ store, or even a store from your grandparents’ era. If you’re really young and middle class and you know the Sears name at all, it’s because until recently the Sears Tower in Chicago was the tallest building in America. The new tallest building is the Freedom Tower in New York, but you could be forgiven for thinking it might be the Target Tower or the Amazon Tower–just two of the companies who have, in different ways, rendered Sears invisible to consumers. (Note: Still commonly called the Sears Tower, it’s official name now is The Willis Tower.)
Sears announced its ninth straight quarter of losses last week. But an even more telling figure is that Sears sales decreased for the 30th consecutive quarter. That’s seven and a half years. Yet maybe there’s life left yet in the old brand name. The company has a lot of assets, including valuable real estate. Investment banker Patrick Dalton told Bloomberg. “It’s a very, very smart management team. They’ve survived a lot longer than most people would have thought.” Maybe so. Sears has managed to survive for a long time as dozens other once great retailers bit the dust. The New York Times published an article in 1988 called Reinventing Sears: A Formidable Task. It sure has been.