Is the 2nd Half of 2017 when Sears Finally Kicks the Bucket?

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Sears doom-and-gloomers approach the end of their long wait.

Sears Holding Corp., which owns the Sears and Kmart stores and is run by hedge-fund manager Eddie Lampert, who is also its largest shareholder, pulled off another little trick when it announced today that it had lined up $200 million “to fund its operations,” but not cash, which is what Sears needs more than anything, given the rate at which it is burning it, but a Secured Standby Letter of Credit, which may be expanded to $500 million, “with the consent of the lenders.”

This announcement gives some clues that after many years of disappointment, Sears doom-and-gloomers might finally approach the end of their long wait:

  • Sears is scrounging up this financing right after the holiday selling season when retailers should be swimming in cash and profits. It’s their best time of year. But even that wasn’t enough for Sears.
  • The letter of credit is not from a bank, but from JPP, LLC and JPP II, LLC, which are affiliates of ESL Investments, which is Lambert’s hedge fund. Citibank serves only as “administrative agent and issuing bank.” In other words, no one outside of Lambert is still willing to lend to Sears.
  • The letter of credit is designed to soothe the nerves of Sears’ suppliers, which, fretting about not getting paid, might cut Sears off.

That suppliers are getting antsy has been an ongoing problem. But on December 16, according to Debtwire, “three sources familiar with the matter” said that suppliers were “requesting cash in advance before they agree to ship or are opting instead to avoid shipments altogether.” This “would mark a new chapter in the company’s ongoing descent, according to the sources.”

On December 8, Sears had reported another mega-loss, $748 million for the quarter – or $6.99 a share, the worst in over four years of bad losses – adding to its pile to cumulative losses, which after eight years of additions, has now reached $9.4 billion. Revenues plunged 12.5% year over year.

At the time, Sears said it had $258 million in cash as of October 29 and $174 million available to borrow via its revolving credit line. Not much, given the cash-burn rate.

Nevertheless, and with bitter irony, Sears assured its shareholders in the press release at the time that it was “fully committed to restoring profitability,” upon which its shares jumped 4.5% to $12.66, only to plunge 34% in the weeks since, sucker-punching, as Sears invariably does, those hardly souls that keep buying these shares on a wing and a prayer.




To keep afloat over these money-losing cash-burning years, Sears has sold some of its brands, including Lands’ End and Hometown & Outlet Stores. It has also sold off big parts of its real estate holdings, including the Sears building in Oakland, which Uber bought for its new headquarters.

In the third quarter alone, Sears Holding also terminated the leases of 17 store properties owned by Seritage Growth Properties, a publicly traded REIT, which Sears Holding had formed on July 8, 2015 (more on that in a moment). The rights offering included in the deal helped fund Seritage’s $2.7 billion sale-leaseback acquisition from Sears Holding of 235 Sears and Kmart stores along with 31 properties where Sears was part-owner.

It’s trying to offload other brands, including Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard, along with its Sears Home Services business. Those efforts have not been fruitful so far, and the statement said that “there can be no assurance” these transactions will ever happen.

Alas, to get through 2017, Sears will have to raise about $1.5 billion, opined Moody’s analyst Christina Boni in early December.

But a big over-indebted, money-losing, cash-burning brick-and-mortar retailer cannot shrink itself to health. It just enters a spiral of steeper revenue declines and bigger losses and more cash burn, all the while adding to its ever increasing mountain of debt, to be serviced by ever shrinking revenues and ever greater losses. The only uncertainty: when will it run out of wiggle room?

On September 28, Fitch Ratings figured Sears among 30 brick-and-mortar retailers that had a good chance of filing for bankruptcy protection within a year or two. Sears has to repay about $2.8 billion in junk bonds and term loans that are coming due in the next few years. Hence, there’s a “significant default risk.”

Monica Aggarwal, managing director of Fitch’s retail team, said that “Sears’ restructuring risk is high over the next twelve months, as our ‘CC’ rating would suggest.”

That means “most likely a bankruptcy, or a Chapter 11 filing,” one of the report’s authors, Sharon Bonelli, told TheStreet.

When a retailer like that files for bankruptcy, stockholders get shafted and most likely end up with nothing. Holders of unsecured debt “fare poorly,” according to Fitch’s review of past retailer bankruptcies. Recoveries on second-lien debt “varied.” But first-lien lenders made “full recoveries on at least one bank loan or secured bond issue.”

So who owns Sears’ first-lien debt? Lambert and his hedge fund? And when will that bankruptcy finally happen?

Probably not before July 8, 2017, the date of the above-mentioned sale-leaseback deals to Seritage Growth, according to Debtwire:

[S]ome investors and analysts prognosticate that management is incentivized to at least keep the company out of bankruptcy through July 2017, since that would mark the two-year anniversary of the landmark $2.7 billion sale lease-back and rights offering transactions completed on 8 July, one of the sources familiar noted.

The bankruptcy code provides a two-year look-back period for the avoidance of fraudulent conveyance with state law often providing a greater look-back, one of the sources said.

Fired up by the news of the $200-million Secured Standby Letter of Credit earlier today, Sears’ shares soared nearly 9% $8.90. In the past, each time an announcement like this caused shares to jump, which they always seem to do, the hapless buyers quickly got sucker punched.

From February this year into December, Toshiba shares surged 206%! But the company has been embroiled in all kinds of intricate and massive nuclear, financial, and accounting scandals that investors deluded themselves into thinking were now behind it. Now shares are once again melting down. Read… Scandal & Cover-Up Plagued Toshiba Re-Implodes




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  66 comments for “Is the 2nd Half of 2017 when Sears Finally Kicks the Bucket?

  1. Harrison
    Dec 29, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    ‘fraudulent conveyance’, that was obviously what Fast Eddie was doing, stripping Sears clean of all its assets.

    However, I think all the mall based anchors( Macy’s, JC Penney, Dillard’s, etc) will gone soon. Sears just quicker than the others due to Fast Eddie’s Randian philosophy.

    It’s a little sad to think the fabeled Sears will be gone by this time next year.

    • Bob
      Dec 29, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      My grandfather owned a department store in Cumberland, MD. It went bankrupt in 1971 in large part due to its inability to compete with Sears when they moved into town (in addition, nobody in my father’s generation wanted to continue the family store). But just as our single store couldn’t compete with Sears, Sears cannot compete with other brick-and-mortar stores and Amazon and other online stores. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenbaum_Brothers_Department_Store

      • Randy
        Jan 1, 2017 at 5:12 pm

        Beautiful building.

      • 728huey
        Jan 1, 2017 at 6:09 pm

        I was just going to say that. Sears’ demise was set in place as early as the mid-1980’s when the indoor shopping mall growth peaked and Walmart began encroaching on its overall sales lead. It declined slowly but steadily until around 2000 when Amazon expanded from selling just books and CD’s to general merchandise, at which point it went into free fall. The merger with Kmart didn’t help either, as Kmart was already getting its head handed to it by both Walmart and Target. The only thing Sears had going for it was the fact they owned the real estate most of their stores sat on, but Eddie Lampert has been basically selling off those assets to keep the store afloat. But they are quickly running out of assets to sell off or refinance from, and I expect Sears to go out of business completely within the next few years.

    • Richard
      Jan 4, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      I remember Sears in the 60’s.it was always mobbed and the men o the family would always go to the hardware and tools section, that was something they were very known for. The Craftsman brand hand and power tools with a solid guarantee. It was always an American institution, truly said to see it ever going, and certainly now in its greatly reduced state. Everything now is China, hard to find items that are not stamped “Made in China” in other stores too. The USA is in its final days it seems.

    • Jan 13, 2017 at 1:26 am

      We’re supposed to meet up with Sears on 2/6/17 at the courthouse to be compensated for 7 1/2 weeks of unfathomable actions that the Federal Trade Commission (.gov) verifies complete with applicable laws, that Sears will be defending criminal behavior. I relish the opportunity to finally get a Sears employee to see my detailed documentation from both sides and marvel at the lies and denial this sorry fool will have to use to defend the arrogant nightmare that is Sears.
      If I do not get the compensation we deserve and are genuinely owed I will go loud. I like to get published, it is easy and needs to happen to get these deluded predators out of the mythical fantasy that is Sears.

      If there was an indication of responsibility or effort to do their job from just one of the 50+ useless scripted “customer service reps” I spoke to I’d give them a break. When a young woman “rep” I befriended told me she would lose her job if she actually commissioned anybody to do anything. She couldn’t even set up a badly needed refund check to be sent FedEx instead of US mail after our 7 1/2 weeks of hell from them and our expenses.
      Sears is so over. Shameful. Adios to this unhip loser filled outfit.

  2. michael
    Dec 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    When I was a child, more than 40 years was one of the best and few retailers. High quality goods, good selection, reasonable prices. Sears represents non of these things today. I will not miss it.

    Wolf, who in their right minds give these idiots money and why?

    • Petunia
      Dec 30, 2016 at 9:28 am

      If Lampert runs a hedge fund he would be able to use that money to fund any “investment” the hedge fund is authorized to pursue. The letter of credit is interesting because it could have been issued against the credit worthiness of the hedge fund with tying up any actual funds. Not a bad strategy from a guy who can’t run a department store chain.

      • Petunia
        Dec 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

        correction: … without typing up any actual funds.

      • George McDuffee
        Dec 30, 2016 at 2:57 pm

        RE: Not a bad strategy from a guy who can’t run a department store chain.
        —–
        It may well be he knows exactly what he is doing. There is a large amount of self-dealing between Sears and his other business interests. Smells like a Tony Soprano “bust-out.”

  3. Dec 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    All of the structural reasons given ( for the decline of Sears ) in the post are quite correct.

    I see another — co-equal — perspective. As a semi-retired boomer, with a millennial son living at home, I can state this, unequivocally :

    I don’t need to buy anything else beyond food fuel and housing — as I await decrepitude. My son ain’t buying much, either. Neither of us needs more “stuff” or furniture or tools or appliances. Certainly not clothing.

    Or another car for either one of us, neither.

    I call that a ( demographically initiated ) paradigm shift.

    All of the money-loans, or structural-reforms, or loss write-downs or even white-knights ( W-Buffett ? ) ain’t gonna rescue retail America ( e.g., Sears ) from this paradigm shift. Economizing and downsizing.

    Time to save . . . . and stop borrowing money ( from C.C.-s ) to buy stuff that :
    we cannot afford, and that we certainly do not need, and that we likely don’t even really want.

    SnowieGeorgie

    • Kent
      Dec 29, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      I feel exactly the same way. I wasn’t always this way. With some reflection, I believe I’ve lost any trust in the system. I feel like my fellow countrymen have been betrayed by the powerful. The powerful have betrayed us.

      I feel like any purchase I make only goes to further enrich those who least deserve it. Eddie Lambert only being the most obvious example. So I make every effort to spend as little as possible. When I must, it is with people and organizations that I know I can trust.

      This must be what it is like to live in a 3rd world country.

      • BobT
        Dec 29, 2016 at 11:06 pm

        ‘This must be what it is like to live in a 3rd world country’

        Kent, I have been an expat in Asia for over 30 years and I can assure you I would rather be here in Thailand, junta not withstanding, than any first world country right now.

        • Frederick
          Dec 30, 2016 at 1:12 am

          Bob I agree Im on the Med coast in SW Turkey for the last 2 years and wouldnt go back for anything

        • Nicko
          Dec 30, 2016 at 10:10 am

          I live on the Red Sea. The local currency has depreciated 50%, the USD is king. Life is good.

      • Peter Forsyth
        Dec 30, 2016 at 4:56 am

        You are being corralled just like those in the seventeenth century with the enclosures England

    • Chris
      Dec 29, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      I’m the same. I’m not short of money, I just don’t need any more stuff. As stuff became cheaper and cheaper over the last few decades, I acquired all the tools and other stuff I will ever need. I also learned that having too much stuff is a pain in the arse, and that in many ways, life is better when you only buy what you really need. I think a lot of people have learned that lesson. If the world adjusts to lower consumption, it will be a good thing, but painful for some.

    • Ross
      Dec 29, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      I love your use of decrepitude. I often say that graceful aging is how one copes with their personal rate of drecrepation😏

      • Roddy6667
        Dec 29, 2016 at 11:26 pm

        “Accelerated decrepitude” was the problem of the Replicants in Blade Runner. At age 68 now, I can understand their plight. We all become Replicants in time.

    • economicminor
      Dec 30, 2016 at 10:53 am

      There is another issue with the down sizing of our consumerism and that is the movement in to apartments and condos. We see this in many major cities with the high rise and short rise apartment/condo boom. There just isn’t the space that the suburbs had. No where to put/store stuff. The size of these living spaces are smaller which means less furniture too. Smaller kitchens mean less but also from what my daughter and her friends X-Gen group lifestyle’s are more eating out and less home time.

      More like much of Europe. The US is shifting from being the consumer of everything the world produces to a more moderate and compact lifestyle.

      Pretty interesting to watch. Lots of adjustments to be made over the next decade.

  4. NotSoSure
    Dec 29, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Lampert might go to Italy and borrow from Monte de paschi. This way Sears will be deemed a Too Big To Fail.

    So easy.

  5. Petunia
    Dec 29, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    We bought a Sears BBQ (BBQ Pro brand) this past spring, it is already broken. It lasted less than 6 months. My husband is hoping he can take it apart and buy whatever parts it needs. But really, it lasted less than 6 months, the customer expectation of Sears quality is no longer there.

    • Frederick
      Dec 30, 2016 at 1:16 am

      We bought a frig from them in 2012 lasted only 6 momths they came and changed the compressor was still not right and they refused to replace it I took the loss and went to their competitor for a replacement This is very much a “Schadenfreude”moment for me watching them go down

  6. Kevin Beck
    Dec 29, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    When I saw the line about Sears receiving a $200 million LOC, the only thing I could conclude was, “When will Eddie Lampert finally throw away the crying towel?”

    Over the last 15 years, he has proven that he can’t operate a retailer that had a running start on the road to ruin. Not that many could; he was just uniquely unqualified.

    If the company sells its DieHard, Craftsman, and Kenmore brands, this money will not flow to Sears. The brands are already sheltered from having to cover the debts of Sears. This will not even dent the black hole that is the Sears Earnings Statement.

  7. Petunia
    Dec 29, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Sears could have been Amazon. The retailer who sold everything by catalogue and shipped houses to remote areas, didn’t see the value of online retailing, sad/crazy/stupid.

    • Dec 29, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Sears was Amazon ( the things that you said ) in the 19th century.

      People awaited the latest Sears Catalog with bated breath, long ago.

      Not really “online” for sure, but as close as was possible in the fledgling telephone age.

      As a young boy in the fifties, I ordered from THE CATALOG frequently.

      Sad / Crazy / Stupid as you say.

      Mostly sad.

      SnowieGeorgie

      • Harrison
        Dec 29, 2016 at 6:11 pm

        Sears (partnered with IBM and CBS) owned Prodigy, one of the first online services.

        They indeed could have become Amazon if they were not so short sighted.

      • DH
        Dec 29, 2016 at 6:39 pm

        Oh, we did the same even in the 1980s.

      • walter map
        Dec 29, 2016 at 8:24 pm

        Is it really ‘progress’ if it is not a genuine improvement?

        Let me count the ways I dislike buying anything online. You lose the shopping experience. You can’t try it out. You can’t try it on. You can’t bring it home, and have to wait for delivery. They send the wrong thing, or the wrong size, or it’s damaged. Risk of identity theft. And so forth.

        In some ways ‘the good old days’ really were better.

        • josap
          Dec 29, 2016 at 9:01 pm

          I buy almost everything online now. Don’t have to go shopping, load it in the basket, unload it at the checkout, load it in the car, unload it from the car.

          It is delivered within a couple of days. If it doesn’t fit or I just decide I don’t like it – it can be returned at no cost to me.

          The few times over the last several years I have been in a department store, everything looks the same. Nothing interesting in the least. Nothing of quality.

          We are at the age where we need very little. I get rid of things on a regular basis. Did just change my wardrobe due to belts hitting the area of compressed disks in my back. But won’t need to buy clothes for many years now.

        • Gary
          Dec 30, 2016 at 4:57 pm

          Josap:

          “load it into the basket, load/unload from car”

          I guess you might have cerebral palsy, and yes for someone like you FedEx delivery of a pair of socks makes sense (they are getting so heavy these days).

          Between you and Walter, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Some things are better to buy online, some things better in-store. The biggest thing that I think people miss is the cost of piece-meal transportation. But the best way to argue is by example: look what’s happening to Uber (works great in theory but the real costs bump up against economic reality). I expect many “unicorns” to fall victim to this in the near future.

        • Jan 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm

          Thank you. I couldn’t have said it better.

        • economicminor
          Jan 13, 2017 at 2:00 pm

          I must be odd because there are a lot of things I buy that are so impossible to find in retail stores that I find myself doing a lot of on line shopping. I buy repair parts for my lawn mowers, chain saws, weed eaters, replacement glass for my oven, water filters, all sorts of electronics things. I do go to Costco and buy a lot of my clothing. There are lots of things like building materials and fertilizers, plants stuff like that that it is impractical to purchase on line but I even order toilet paper in bulk on line because it is easier than hauling it.. Thinking of ordering my dog food too. Paper for my office … on line… Ink for my printers.. on line. Makes comparison shopping much easier as many sites have customer reviews which is a big plus to keep from buying lemons when you want a peach…

      • RD Blakeslee
        Dec 30, 2016 at 10:02 am

        When we built our house nearly 40 years ago, much of the hardware and many of the tools came to us from Sears catalog orders, placed in a small wooden Sears store in a little town of 400 or so souls.

        Sears sealed its doom when it abandoned catalog merchandising and closed its thousands of local catalog stores scattered throughout America, a generation ago.

        • economicminor
          Dec 30, 2016 at 10:58 am

          Boy, I sure agree with that… Sears blew it when they closed our local catalogue store… They could have taken it on line and had the small catalogue stores for pick up and some small retail.. I knew they were going down when they did that.

        • George McDuffee
          Dec 30, 2016 at 2:43 pm

          IIUC the catalog order stores were *NOT* losing money, but they were not making enough to please the MBAs that had taken control of Sears at that point. In many cases the Allstate insurance agent also worked out of the catalog order store. Big loss to the local community when our catalog order store closed.

        • S2k
          Jan 9, 2017 at 6:49 pm

          I must say it will be a sad day when they cease to exist. I spent 13 years working in their largest catalog warehouse, so I remember well when they got out of the catalog business.

          Have to admit I haven’t been in a Sears store in over 5 years.

          Even the Craftman’s brand is not what it once was. I have wrenches and sockets from 40 years ago and 5 years ago. You can definitely tell the difference in quality.

      • RepubAnon
        Dec 30, 2016 at 1:51 pm

        I’ve always wondered the same thing – all Sears had to do was post their catalog at America OnLine, and later the web, and they’d have been ready to take on Amazon. (Same thing for the newspaper want ads and Craig’s List.)

        Now, all Sears shows is what happens when Ayn Rand’s philosophy shifts from a fictional existence to the real world.

    • PrototypeGirl1
      Dec 29, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Like the post office could have sold E-mail addresses.

  8. George McDuffee
    Dec 29, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    The Sear/K-Mart debacle is yet another anecdote justifying the enactment of what can be called the “Get Hot or Go Home” act, which provides that a “for profit” exchange listed, or OTC corporation, must make a profit over a reasonable time period, as measured by paying Federal income tax at some significant rate/amount (based on their cash flow or gross sales) for at least 2 years of a moving 5 year period.

    Failure to do so under such legislation would result in automatic bankruptcy filing under chapter 11 (re-organization) with the officers, directors, and cadre management replaced, possibly with their employment contracts, bonuses, and separation payments abrogated for cause.

    As part of the re-organization process, the potential for the corporation to ever attain “going concern” status should be determined, and if this is unlikely, then automatic transferal from chapter 11 to chapter 7 (liquidation) proceedings should occur. The re-organized corporation should then have 3 years to show it is a going concern by payment of federal income tax for at least one year, or it will be automatically placed in chapter 7 liquidation.

    The intent is to force the allocation of all forms of capital [e. g. manpower, money, goods, real estate etc.] away from the zombie and vampire corporations and into productive economic activities. Clearly “the market” is no longer capable of doing this.

    • d
      Dec 29, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Not completely stupid .

      A similar piece of legislation is also required for NPL’S pay up or get cut off.

      Enough already of this rolling the interest due and principle into anew loan and calling it performing. Wiping out the old NPL which goes on all the time especially in china.

      NPL’S support Zombie Companies.

      Zombie company’s bleed the Economy, and all Healthy Companies white, until you end up with a Zombie Economy.

      • George McDuffee
        Dec 30, 2016 at 2:51 pm

        Indeed! Legislation, backed with significant criminal and civil penalties, is urgently required to make the “free market” function as advertised.

        Another step would be the creation of a new Federal felony of “Careless and Reckless Operation of an Interstate Business,” analogous to the “Careless and Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle.” Most of what constitutes “Careless and Reckless Operation of a Business” is well known.

        • d
          Dec 30, 2016 at 6:24 pm

          “Another step would be the creation of a new Federal felony of “Careless and Reckless Operation of an Interstate Business,” analogous to the “Careless and Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle.” Most of what constitutes “Careless and Reckless Operation of a Business” is well known.”

          Which could have been applied to a lot of ninja loan brokers and their supervisors, post 2008, or even prior.

    • walter map
      Dec 29, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      ‘Clearly “the market” is no longer capable of doing this.’

      Clearly “the market” is rigged, but not to deliver the goods.

      And clearly, there is no good reason for people to buy into a system which only serves the interests of a few profiteers. And increasingly that’s the entire economy.

      Maybe what the world needs is a whopping consumer boycott and labor strike. Perhaps that could motivate the decision-makers into making decisions which serve the interests of people besides themselves.

      • chris Hauser
        Jan 1, 2017 at 8:18 pm

        don’t buy anything and don’t go to work. now that’s a recipe for change.

        question is, will anybody eat it?

    • mvojy
      Dec 30, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Love the idea. Looking at Sears most recent 3 years’ cash flows from operations it looks like a dead duck. It lost $1.109 billion then $1.387 billion then $2.167 billion from operations. They should have been delisted after 5 consecutive years of negative cash flows from operations.

  9. walter map
    Dec 29, 2016 at 8:53 pm
  10. Bob
    Dec 29, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Doug Kass believes Sears will declare bankruptcy in the next few weeks. It is his suprise #1 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-27/bankrupt-best-buy-brexit-becomes-bremain-bye-bye-peak-auto-doug-kass-15-surprises-20

    • RepubAnon
      Dec 30, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      It wouldn’t surprise me to see the creditors file to force Sears into involuntary bankruptcy while they can still “claw back” the Seritage deal. That’s probably one of the reasons for the Lampert letter of credit (in addition to ripping the eyes out of more Muppets, as the saying goes).

  11. roddy6667
    Dec 29, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse I want Eddie Lampert to be in charge. All his experience with Sears and K-Mart will be needed.

  12. kato
    Dec 30, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Wolf,
    I grew up in an Ag environment. Sears and Wards catalogues played a big role in our everyday purchases, even today I have a Sears yard tractor with a lot of the attachments I use around my small property.

    It will be a sad day for me if Sears goes into history.

  13. Dec 30, 2016 at 8:26 am

    It has been painful to watch a store that has been my first choice for all kinds of “Stuff” go down hill for so long. Not just me for 25 years, but my parents generation too. My high school friend’s house was a Sears house. I have bed sheets and pillow cases from Sears that are 20 years old, and still outlasting newer ones from you know where…..

    I use to be a tv repair-man back in 1980, now I have a small vintage tv collection. Sets I found on ebay, or locally from house cleaners on CL. Included among them 3 1963-1967 19″ B&W tv’s. Like the ones we had when I was young. Inside these tube sets, all have all of the original tubes. Unheard of for such sets, especially the tubes that did some real work.

    Selection started to get thin, familiar house branded items went away in favor of carrying known brands outside of sears. I think that signaled the start of the decline. A Sears Silvertone tv was no longer thought of as a good tv. Sears Oil was no longer the best.

    Over the last 15 or so years I have been told by sears floor walkers when asked for something to “get it someplace else” Now it’s hard to find a floor walker there.

    While my sears chainsaws are pretty much crap, my 19.2V cordless drill is a Killer worth 2X what I paid.

    I really don’t know what to think about Sears……

    Disappointing….Very Much.

    • MC
      Dec 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Over the years Sears had their chainsaws manufactured by a number of companies.
      The best ones are those made by Echo-Kioritz, Homelite and Poulan (the two latter before they were bought by Electrolux). We are talking about stuff at very least thirty years old and they tend to be collectors’ items. Most older models were made by Roper/David Bradley, usually with Tecumseh engines.
      The recent stuff is by the looks of it mostly the usual Made in China Zenoah clones/derivatives which are literally swamping the world.

    • George McDuffee
      Dec 30, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      IMNSHO Sears committed suicide. This seems to date from two events: (1) the construction of the Sears Tower; and (2) the elimination of the catalog order stores in the smaller rural communities.

      Both of these events seem to have been caused by hubris, in yet another example of the classical Greek saying “those who the gods would destroy, they first make proud.”

  14. mvojy
    Dec 30, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Loving the reference to Prodigy which was an early internet sensation. Read this little snippet and see if this sounds like where Facebook is heading.

    Send in the censors

    In 1991 Prodigy management decided to censor content. It probably began as an idea for reducing message traffic, but Prodigy started banning negative comments about advertisers and then any public comments about advertisers. Additionally, Prodigy banned profanity and anything else that might offend anybody. Next came a ban on flame wars among members. Soon the service literally outlawed postings that mentioned another member by name.

    Eventually every message was examined by censors, and any that violated the rules were deleted. It was a Sisyphean task, and they overdid it. For example, members couldn’t use the word “bitch” in a dog breeders’ forum. And supposedly discussions of the Roosevelt dime were deleted from a coin-collector’s board because there was a member whose screen name was “Roosevelt Dime.”

    Prodigy members were incensed. Thousands fought back by organizing users into underground e-mail groups. Conversation threads were picked up from the boards and circulated in listserv fashion, with each participant adding comments and passing them on. It was like having to send USENET newsgroups to thousands of recipients several times a day. E-mail traffic swelled to staggering proportions.

    http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/classics-rock/prodigy-the-pre-internet-online-service-that-didnt-live-up-to-its-name/

  15. economicminor
    Dec 30, 2016 at 11:07 am

    My wife and I were in a Sears in Portland Oregon just before Christmas. It was a mess. The inventory was slim and what was there was not taken care of.. messy looking store.. We did find an item we were looking for but then the challenge came. The one register had a 10+ person line and wasn’t moving so we were going to leave when a clerk from the women’s department decided to open up her register.. She had just come to work. It took a full 5 minutes for her register to boot up and log into the store’s system. It must have been from the 1990’s to be that slow.. So for one item it took us a good 20 minutes to check out.

    • Lee Nick
      Jan 2, 2017 at 8:24 am

      It’s almost as if Sears isn’t really interested in being in the retail business anymore.

      My guess is Eddie Lampert is manipulating Seats as his personal cash cow. My wife worked in management for a Sears Store for 7 years, and I tried doing some of their installation business. I’ve never seen a less customer focused operation in my 25 years in retail-oriented business. The upper-level mismanagement is incredible, an it’s as if they are doing everything possible to anger customers and drive them away.

      The retail world has changed, and Sears is just refusing to do anything to catch up.

  16. Dec 30, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Hey let s pretend everybody s shopping on line for washing machines n fridges!
    –we used to buy appliances fr Sears quite regularly because we used to buy an old house, live in it while we fixed it up, then sell it a few years later.
    We lost everything in the 07 collapse: blind sided by the collapse that wasn t there..Yeah dumb: we didn t think it could happen so big to housing,but we didn t know about financialization and derivative instruments. We still believed what the govt / talking heads said about the economy. Ha ha: Not anymore.
    Now we live in a very modest home we own entirely, buy everything used (incl appliances) or in Thrift stores, cook from scratch, grow veggies, keep a few chickens.
    In ’08 I said to a younger friend: the govt s gonna have to step in; this is the middle class,. If that goes down, all bets are off.’ He flicked his hair and said derisively:” They don t care about US!” It took me 2 days to admit to myself he was 100% right.
    The entrepreneurial American Middle class and it s small business culture was the envy of the rest of the world: they employed the most people, did most of the work, and paid most of the taxes. And they were called ‘the motor of the great American economy’. They found everything they needed at a Sears store.
    It s not clear to me how the people running things now can get through the likes of Harvard Business school, without learning this, or learning it and thinking it doesn t matter.
    I m sure they re all astounding geniuses, but maybe a bit short sighted, ha ha.
    Most of the kids now aren t enthusiastic about going corporate; it s no longer a ladder, but a trap, run by ivy league snots who pay themselves ten / a hundred times more than the peons from lesser backgrounds. They have little opportunity and know it; They know that the paperwork and inspections and red tape involved in starting and maintaining a small business kills that idea; And the ones who went to Harvard, etc just want to do start-ups and sell’em: take the money and run. It s so funny to watch the oligarchs, banksters and politico s now: Somehow they got the idea that THEY are the economy, that their bank charters and corporate by-laws are some sort of privilege that requires no giving back, no validating contribution to social balance; and that they can somehow control everything to their own advantage.
    They re so clueless about how people feel, about how much they they ve lost confidence that those in charge have any of their interests at heart. And they ve pretty much killed the economy, turning it instead into a phoney zombie based on electronic debt, phoney money, and propped up financialism. Doesn t Sears symbolize the whole blighted mess the financialist oligarchy and it s political henchmen have created?

    • nancy lesicka
      Dec 31, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      Agree 100% with every word.

  17. flash91
    Dec 30, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Looks like the seritage spinoff did well, it makes sense to get into a debtor in posession position, then sell the commercial property off.

    Sears shareholders/bondholders carry the bag, Eddie walks off with the prime real estate.

    • mvojy
      Dec 30, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      The Sears and K-Mart properties are only valuable if someone wants to occupy them which is highly unlikely since demand for large department store locations is at an all-time low or the land can be redeveloped with the approval of local zoning boards and the only thing being built is Amazon warehouses.

  18. Maximus Minimus
    Dec 30, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Sears is a remarkable survivor. I did not expect it to last this long. I am kind of rooting for a conglomerate of brick and mortar retailers to emerge to challenge Amazon. This business model could be different, focusing to a greater degree on in store pickup. Sears could be the home appliance and living part of the business.

  19. Brian
    Dec 30, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Here is your sign. December 27, 2016 The shantytowns of America: Inside the shacks, cars, tents and boxes that America’s homeless call home

    From Florida to Louisiana, photographer, Mary Lou Uttermohlen, has captured these captivating images of homeless people across the US, who have organized their lives in shantytowns.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4069570/The-shantytowns-America-Inside-shacks-cars-tents-boxes-America-s-homeless-call-home.html?ito=email_share_article-bottom

  20. StanK
    Dec 31, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Sears needs to get with the program. All they need to do is borrow a ton of cheap money from the Fed and buy back a ton of their stock. Or maybe they can sell a ton of negative yielding bonds to the ECB and use that money to buy back stock and give huge bonuses to management.

  21. chris Hauser
    Jan 1, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    sears equity value is a billion.

    add in the debt, and subtract the NOLs, and carry the white elephants, square by the bean counters…….

    can it swim?

  22. Canada goose
    Jan 2, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Sears is online and making a valiant effort xmas 2016. They seem to have issues with online customer support, but they should be able to learn from Amazon and others. I shop online because i can read customer reviews and have a reasonable expectation of how the product will suit my needs.
    This is in contrast to shopping in person, having difficulty finding what i need, or the right size, or even a salesperson to help. Everyone i know shops online bigtime. Time for Sears to plan for a future online to bail out the bricks and mortar.

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