Sears To Split Into 5 Crappy Companies

Sears might be be poised to sell off some of the sadder, dirtier, and lonelier of its department stores. In addition, it will reorganize itself into five distinct companies based around different sectors of the business. Details are sketchy, but so far it looks like one company will just deny warranty repairs and replacements, while another will focus its entire energies on sending incompetent technicians to your house.

Sears Would Face Soft Real-Estate Sector [WSJ]
(Photo: Allan Ferguson)

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  1. soulman901 says:

    So does this mean that 5 people will show up at my house to do work on one item?
    How many Sears Divisions does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, they will tell you it’s out of Warranty and then transfer you to the switch board.

  2. ARP says:

    I know some companies have done this (e.g. airlines selling their frequent flyer programs or their refueling operations).

    This is good short term for the companies as they get poorly performing companies off their books and make a bit of money. However, the poor customer service and organizational trees eventually catches up with them.

  3. MickeyMoo says:

    I haven’t been in a Sears since my folks needed a new cooktop years ago, but this weekend happened to accompany a friend on shopping voyage that ended up at the Tanforan Sears in San Bruno CA (former race track and Japanese internment camp) and OMG what a $hi7hole! Dirty, dingy, disorganized, UGLY UGLY clothes, unhelpful employees, the works. Someone must have transposed a digit on an order form because they were literally drowning in holiday colored storage boxes on closeout (at prices still higher than Target) they were stacked up blocking the asiles in almost every single department I walked through – and there were hundreds more in the rafters downstairs in the tool department. What a mismanaged mess. By some miracle they’ve been able to stay in business, but I’m not sure how much longer that’s going to last.

  4. Starfury says:

    @MickeyMoo: The problem is you went to the Tanforan Sears. The one in Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton is very nice.

    We are in the process of remodeling the kitchen and we bought our appliances at Sears.

  5. Tux the Penguin says:

    @Starfury: I’ve noticed the same things. Some Sears are just hideously nasty and disorganized while others are very nice. They need to close those stores, refurbish them, and reopen.

  6. headon says:

    c = crap 5 x C= a whole bunch of crap.
    Sears has can’t manage one company so they decided to manage 5. Makes sense. Their CEO needs to stop and check himself into a mental care facility

  7. MickeyMoo says:

    @Starfury:
    We’ve alway gotten our appliances from Sears as well (usually floor models at a deep discount) While I don’t doubt you when you say the store near you is nicer, it does beg the question of why? Chainstores should offer a relatively consistent shopping experience. Perhaps Pleasanton’s store manager cares more than Tanforan’s, I can’t say.

  8. savvy999 says:

    As long as the ‘Craftsman division’ stays around in some capacity, I could care less what the rest of Sears does.

  9. disavow says:

    @soulman901: Five people will *fail* to show up at your house to do work on one item.

  10. fordpickup says:

    The Sears Essentials near me was just remodeled and it is remarkably nice. Though whenever I’m in the store, there’s never anyone else shopping.

  11. MickeyMoo says:

    @savvy999:
    They sell Craftsman @ OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) but I think they are a CA only chain. Maybe one of the spin-off companies will be Craftsman as a standalone since it still has some brand value.

  12. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    Since no one else is saying it: well done, Ben. Well done!

  13. The Kapil says:

    @savvy999: You COULDN’T care less. If you COULD care less, you would.

  14. HRHKingFriday says:

    The saddest ones will become retail rodeos and dollar stores. Which, coincidentally, are doing very well in our subprime market.

  15. sleze69 says:

    @MickeyMoo: When Craftsman ended its lifetime warranty, it lost its most distinguishing feature. It might as well be Ryobi.

  16. jerros says:

    The problem with sears as it stands now is that they’ve got their hands in every jar they can possibly think of. Housewares, Clothing, Appliances, Electronics, Tools, Home Improvements (cabinent refacing, siding, etc).

    Because of this they lack the floor space that their competitors have. Why would I walk into sears to buy clothing when I can just walk though the 100 other clothing stores in the mall that sears is attached to? Why buy appliances at sears when their selection pales in comparison to lowes or home depot? Why buy tools at sears when yet again their selection is much smaller than home depot, lowes, or even walmart? Why buy housewares at sears when Linnens & Things and Bed Bath & beyond have a much larger selection?

    And then theres the whole shopping “experiance” sears has. Walk into a store, find the item you want and you have to wander around looking for a register that’s open. These registers are often not Maned because employees lack supervision due to the fact the registers are so spread around, so they congregate in various departments and carry on conversations while customers wait. The appliance department has to be one of the few commission based departments I’m aware of these days. This means there are always people around willing to sell you stuff, but most of them seem uneducated in the appliances they are trying to sell.

    If the company wants to survive it’s probably best for them to do this split. They should then focus on the things that make “Sears” great such as the craftsmen tools products, and their appliances. If they insist on doing housewares/clothing then they really need to use the “checkout lane” system where employees can be monitored & customers can recieve quick service with out having to play “Wheres waldo”.

  17. homerjay says:

    Excuse me, sir. Where can I find the coffin nails?

  18. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    So which company is going to be in charge of not selling anything I want or need?

    @The Kapil: Tell me about it. People with their well-established inverted colloquialisms! They should just stop; Heh, I should be so lucky!

  19. zero_o says:

    I am sure that they will blame this on the foreclosure “Crisis” facing that nation and the “Credit crunch” when the fact is they have been bringing about their own demise for years

  20. nursetim says:

    Just point me to the part that will sell their hand tools, since that is the only reason I have to go there. A couple of weeks ago I bought a metric socket that was a size I couldn’t find at HD or Lowes.

  21. Swifty says:

    @fordpickup: Sears remodeled a store? I’ve never seen Sears remodel a store in the past 10 years – especially Kmarts. When was the last time any of you saw a remodeled Kmart? If Sears would take any of their miniscule profits and actually invest them in the upkeep of their properties, then we might see the beginnings of a healthy company where people would actually not feel the need to bathe after walking into one of the stores.

    That being said, I’ll shop at Kmart and Sears over Wal Mart any day.

  22. Curiosity says:

    @sleze69: That is the saddest thing I have heard – I didn’t know.

  23. SacraBos says:

    @jerros: Sears is like JC Penny, Dillards, etc they try to get you into the store. Once you are there, they want you to buy all your stuff there. In order to accomplish this, all stores are designed like the fabled Labryinth, forcing you to shop in their store rather than risk starvation attempting to locate the rest of the mall. I’ve heard some people have survived by buying bread at the food court, then leaving crumbs as they enter the store so they can find their way back out. That is why you always find chairs in these department stores, often filled with men weary from escape attempts that fail due to their reluctance to ask for directions.

  24. humphrmi says:

    @Swifty: In my neighborhood, they closed down all the Kmarts and reopened them later as stores that Sears doesn’t own. I consider those an excellent remodelling job.

  25. krom says:

    I nominate the retail division combine the Sears and KMart brands and be renamed SMart.

    Shop smart. Shop SMart.

  26. Chairman-Meow says:

    Well here comes the slow agonizing death of Sears.

    The likely reason they split the divisions is to kill-off / sell-off the unprofitable pieces. Typical when you have a Investment Agency running a business they know nothing about or care to. They just are in it to suck every last cent out of businesses, discard the husk and move on to the next vistim.

  27. cmdr.sass says:

    Department stores are a thing of the past. Sears had a good run, but they’re ultimately doomed.

  28. SuperJdynamite says:

    @sleze69: “When Craftsman ended its lifetime warranty, it lost its most distinguishing feature. It might as well be Ryobi.”

    Some Craftsman tools are actually rebadged Ryobi tools.

  29. m4ximusprim3 says:

    “Mr CEO, our company is failing miserably, what should we do?”

    “Not to worry, minion. Project HYDRA will save us all. One head may die, but 5 more will take its place! MUAHAHAHA”

    World: “Nooooooooo!”

  30. dgcaste says:

    @cmdr.sass: Funny, I just mentioned that to my wife while we were walking into Macy’s and she disagreed. Then again, she holds a penchant for disagreement.

  31. Brie says:

    @Swifty: I’ve never seen Sears remodel a store in the past 10 years – especially Kmarts. When was the last time any of you saw a remodeled Kmart?

    Christmas ’06, when they remodeled The Most Depressing KMart In The Bay Area and sent out 10-percent-off coupons so I went there to buy a Nintendo DS for my daughter. The inside paint job was quite nice, in muted COLORS instead of dim white. There were appliances for sale where there hadn’t been before. Aside from that? Still depressing. It just feels like life stinks for anyone who’s inside that KMart, and it’s never going to get better. Ever.

  32. brs928 says:

    @sleze69: When did Craftsman end the lifetime warranty? As far as I can tell from their site it is still good.

  33. savvy999 says:

    @The Kapil: Sir/Madam, I stand corrected, thanks.

  34. TWinter says:

    @MissedTheExit: “Still depressing. It just feels like life stinks for anyone who’s inside that KMart, and it’s never going to get better. Ever.”

    Hmmmmmm. Maybe the dementors from the Hairy Potter books have taken over sears and are lurking in the appliances sucking the happiness out of the customers.

    It’s a theory!!!

  35. Instigator says:

    I recently accompanied a friend to a Sears store, and saw a blouse that was covered by swarming ants. It was hanging from a slate board wall, so I assume the infestation originated from behind.

  36. Andy S. says:

    @savvy999: Seriously. Every purchase I’ve made at Sears (either B&M or online) has been from the tools & hardware department. I would love to see that one department split off on its own, so it wouldn’t have to keep their lame electronics, clothing, and housewares departments afloat.

  37. vdragonmpc says:

    Break something and then try to get it replaced… The stooge at the register will tell you all kinds of stories to get out of it.
    Funny thing My Friend who is an Body Tech used to swear by Snap-on tools.. Now he likes Harbor Frieght and Craftsman as he can get the tools that work cheaper and not deal with warranty wait times for replacement. Seems snap-on has been slipping too.
    I had a staple gun drop a spring and they called it a ‘power tool’ So I have a useless craftsman staple gun. I also have screwdrivers I bought a few years ago that oxidized in my tool box.. It was wierd.

  38. NotATool says:

    @Front_Towards_Enemy: The slow agonizing death began in 1982…

  39. NotATool says:

    @brs928: They never ended the lifetime warranty. They just have a consumer misconception about it. Craftsman hand tools = lifetime warranty. Craftsman power tools = no lifetime warranty.

  40. Artnchicken says:

    I’ve been to a remodeled Kmart that was renamed “Sears Grand.” It was still Kmart to me!

  41. deadlizard says:

    The move was to stop the company’s stock from diving after their
    last financial report. A lot of suckers love Sears stock because they
    think Sears is going to become a hedge-fund company a la Berkshire
    Hathaway. Problem is, right now Sears is a store and lacks something a
    store needs: customers.

  42. robotprom says:

    @SuperJdynamite: All Craftsman tools are rebadged. Some sre Ryobi, some are Dewalt, some are Porter Cable, some are made by the same OEM manufacturers as other tool companies use.

  43. bohemian says:

    They remodeled the large Kmart where I live. Right before they closed it down. The remodel was really half hearted. They put in new black shopping carts, a new black & red customer service desk with a big screen TV in the back of it and new black sold surface bathroom stalls. That’s it. The rest was still the decaying rotting leftovers from what was a cool store in the early 1970’s.

    There is one aspect of what Sears used to be that could survive. The old aspect of the catalog only business. You could get damn near anything from a Sears catalog and the reliability and predictability was solid. They are too far gone to ever go down that road again. They pretty much gutted their catalog division years ago, it would be like starting from nothing. They have already proven they can’t do online without screwing it up so they are toast.

  44. sleze69 says:

    @brs928: Try to exchange a rusty craftsman wrench for a new one (like you could a few years ago).

  45. That70sHeidi says:

    @m4ximusprim3: Duuude, I LAUGHED. Awesome.

    I didn’t realize Kmart and Sears were linked. That explains SO much. The Kmart in our town reminds me of how GC Murphys (erm, Woolworths?) used to be in the dying days – dirty, warped floors, dim lighting, ugly clothes. Yet another store just three miles away? LOVELY.

    I’m an online shopper, so… don’t really care much about the concept of the megastore. I can find better clothes in a better variety anywhere online, usually get discounts and free shipping, possibly free returns or exchanges. Same thing with jewelry, electronics, and I imagine tools and power tools, but that’s not my thang either.

  46. Kounji says:

    @Starfury: Yeah I live in the area too Star Fury. It is pretty nice in the stoneridge mall store. Though on most nights when I go in it still seems like a dismal place, most people just use their parking and walk on through.

  47. SaraAB87 says:

    They tried the self-checkout thing at our Kmart, within a couple months it was promptly removed and replaced with a display hocking yet more crappy merchandise. With the constant need for price checks due to their 1970’s or possibly earlier computer software and obviously flawed inventory system there is no way they could have sustained self checkouts as almost every customer has at least one thing ring up at the wrong price. Yeah this is what they call remodeling. I suspect that this Kmart will be closing soon as another Kmart just closed near me, its only a matter of time before this one goes.

    The only thing Sears is good for here is Children’s Clothing. They should probably double that section (especially doubling the section for Plus Sized Girls clothing) and downsize something else like linens because I NEVER see anyone shopping in linens, yet the kids clothes section is always bustling. Our sears is quite nice, its very clean and gasp the employees are actually nice and helpful, some of them probably go out of their way to help too, but like everyone said it doesn’t have nearly the amount of people shopping in it that it should have. The majority are there for the children’s clothing.

  48. lukobe says:

    “The company’s new structure will consist of five units: operating businesses; support; brands; online; and real estate… Operating businesses will consist of Sears’s current lines of business such as home appliances, electronics, and apparel. The support unit will include functions that provide operational and administrative services to the operating unit, such as marketing, customer strategy and finance. The brand units will be responsible for growing the value of Sears’s brands such as Craftsman and Kenmore.”

    This sounds like a disaster in the making. Separating brand devlopment from marketing, and then having yet a third division running the actual business?

    Goodbye Sears AND KMart. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were both gone by 2010…

  49. HOP says:

    no more sears for us…we had bad doings with their repair group…..they can dry up and blow away as far as we are concerned…we get our appliances from a local appliance store….good service and salespeople.

  50. DanR2 says:

    Five Distinct Companies?

    That shouldn’t be too hard:

    1. Lands’ End

    2. NTB (National Tire & Battery)

    3. Orchard Supply Hardware

    4. K-Mart

    5. Sears

    Problem solved.

  51. UpsetPanda says:

    @Instigator: That would’ve made me throw up a little.

  52. barty says:

    @savvy999: Ditto. Craftsman is about the only stuff I’ve bought at Sears in the past 10 years anyway. Lord help us if we have to start dealing with Snap-On, Mac or Matco to buy tools with a good warranty on them.

  53. goodkitty says:

    @soulman901: You forgot the part where they first send multiple repair people to fix your light socket first, and tell you they have to order in the light bulb because it’s a special part.

  54. Rode2008 says:

    Sears is a retail dinosaur, soon to be extinct.

    It always struck me as being over priced and lacking a quality line of products (other than, perhaps, their Craftsmen tools).

    Their credit card rates were usurious. Did any of you know that an anagram (this is a new word or phrase born out of rearranging all the letters of another word or phrase) for Sears Tower is “Worse rates”?

  55. D3R3K says:

    There are an abundance of Sear’s job postings on our school’s career website… I look at them and laugh.

    On another note, the only Sears I’ve been impressed with is the one in Eaton Center in Toronto. Almost seemed like a Macy’s and they even had some designer brands like Mexxx.

  56. bdgbill says:

    I have also experienced that creepy depressing feeling in K-Mart and Sears. I can’t put my finger on what causes it. The few K-Marts I have been to in the last year or so have had large areas of empty shelves. This contributes to an “about to go out of business” feel.

    In both stores I have a strong feeling that it would be terrible to work there and usually end up leaving before I search up what I went in for.

  57. ppiddyp says:

    Don’t forget S-K tools as another lifetime warranty item.

    Sears still honors the lifetime warranty on hand tools. They replaced a 17mm 1/2″ drive socket I split right down the center a few months ago. Now, why the hell a 17mm 1/2″ drive socket busted when removing a lug nut is another question all together…

  58. Anonymous says:

    I need to know the email address of the current CEO of Sears. I have much to discuss with this person, before I go to State Board of Contractors and the better business bureau. Can anyone help me with this matter? Media Stink is another option. HUmmmm