For over a century, Sears was one of this nation’s leading retailers. In the 1920s, you could literally buy a house from Sears. The postwar years saw Sears moving into malls across the land. KMart started in 1962, the same year that saw a number of other discount retailers like Target and Walmart open for business. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, KMart became the go-to place for finding things at a good price. Shoppers were on the lookout for their famous blue light specials.
Over the last decade, hundreds of stores were closed and the two chains are now basically defunct.
The common story is that Sears and Kmart didn’t keep up with the times and they pin the blame on the rise on Amazon. Now the online retail behemoth does have a role in the demise of Sears, but it’s only a small role. Actually, the reason Sears and Kmart have vanished from American retail is because of one man- the one-time CEO of Sears Holdings, Eddie Lampert.
In this bonus episode, we hear from retail journalist Warren Shoulberg who has followed Lampert and what he did to Sears. Shoulberg is a long-time expert in all things retail and the right person to talk about what really happened to Sears. This part of a larger interview I did with Shoulberg on retail will show up in a few days, but it’s important to hear this story about one retailer and what its downfall says about American society in general. So let’s hear from Warren Shoulberg.
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