Sears Loses $56 Million In The First Quarter, Experts Say Kmart May Have To Go

Bad news for Sears Holdings — the parent company of Sears and Kmart lost $56 million in the first quarter, and some experts are saying that boss Eddie Lampert may have to face up to the fact that Kmart needs to close.

From the AP:

Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consulting firm Davidowitz & Associates, said he thinks Lampert will need to dramatically realign business units β€” and even consider shutting down the discount Kmart brand β€” if the retailer has any hope of remaining viable to the American consumer.

“It’s going to get a lot worse,” he said. “Given these results, I think Lampert really has to now face up to major, major store closings.”

Sears is in the midst of a high-stakes restructuring aimed at reconnecting with customers and reinvigorating atrophied same-store sales, which have fallen for the past nine consecutive quarters. The company is also searching for a new CEO.

The company said its troubles were due to the soaring cost of gas and food leaving less money for would-be customers to spend at Sears and Kmart. It seems that these customers are also defecting to warehouse stores and buying in bulk: Costco isn’t having any problems — their profits are up 32%.

Sears Holdings swings to 1Q loss on slumping sales [AP]

(Photo: Joseph Hoetzl )

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  1. voteccow says:

    honestly, they need to get their act together, when you walk into any sears/kmart store, it’s as if your back in the 80’s. Their stores are dated and need a serious refresh. If only the company listened to it’s consumer base and pumped money into the stores instead of their executives pockets

  2. TacoDave says:

    Or maybe, just maybe…

    Am I the only one who thinks old-school department stores should wither away? Going in to Sears isn’t fun, their prices aren’t very good, and they don’t have many products that I want.

    The only thing I’ve bought from a Sears in the last 15 years is a vacuum cleaner, and they sold me the wrong accessories for it.

    Bye, bye.

  3. SkokieGuy says:

    Edward S. Lampert made $1.02 billion, while his firm, ESL Investments, raked in a 69 percent return on investment, largely due to Lampert’s deal-making in the merger of Kmart and Sears [www.wsws.org]

    In ancient Japanese culture, a business man would plunge a dagger into himself and commit suicide rather than face public shame.

    Oh yeah, it’s the new millenium – the wealthy have no shame.

  4. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    Here’s what Sears plan should be:
    Step 1: Good Customer Service
    Step 2: Repeat Customers
    Ster 3: Profit!

    /the preceding comment was written by underwear gnomes

  5. Coelacanth says:

    Fundamentally, I don’t understand how Kmart is positioned to lose so much money. Unless their management is terribly shoddy, aren’t they exactly the type of “Discount Retail Store” that should successfully compete against Walmart and big-box stores?

    Sears seems more poised to suffer, if we’re talking about the demographics if we’re discussing “disposable income.”

  6. adamondi says:

    Kmart and Sears should just give it up and die. I haven’t been satisfied with a shopping experience at either of them for at least a decade.

  7. mantari says:

    Die. They’re in a death spiral.
    1] Losing company A
    2] Losing company B
    3] Losing company A buys B
    4] Synergy???

  8. Bladefist says:

    @SkokieGuy: You plunge a dagger into yourself next time you screw something up

  9. cubejockey says:

    I cringed every time I watched mad money and listed to Jim Cramer pump Sears Holdings.

    Kmart should have been put to pasture they went bankrupt.

  10. Kounji says:

    You need more players in the market place. I think kmart is more or less done. I think there is still room for sears. They just need to grab a really good executive or two from walmart and or target. To really get into peoples heads

  11. Kounji says:

    @cubejockey: Yeah I thought Jim Cramer was nuts on this one too

  12. MissPeacock says:

    @voteccow: Don’t forget the patented K-Mart smell: one part mold to two parts dead rat.

  13. Landru says:

    I recently had a good experience at the Sears scratch-n-dent store, buying a HE washer and dryer. I know it sounds like the exception, but it was a good price, the installation went well, on the day it was supposed to. This was a few months ago and no problems so far.

  14. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    I hope that Lands’ End is not affected. That is one of my favorite stores.

  15. cubejockey says:

    growing up around Kmart in the 70s i loved the smell of popcorn when you walked in the door and the toy section.

  16. Underpants Gnome says:

    @BloggyMcBlogBlog: shhhhhh…. stop telling our secrets!

  17. Kavatar says:

    It’s kind of sad. Kmart looks trashy, but they have a lot of pretty good items, including surprisingly good furniture.

  18. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    1. Stores look like they haven’t had maintenance since the late 60s (many haven’t).
    2. Scarce employees either arrogant, timid, or in hiding (in stock rooms?).
    3. Nothing in stock worth buying. Stuff that IS in stock is open/damaged and/or overpriced/priced wrong.

    But then I have NO business degree to qualify these observations as possible problems.

  19. Jesse says:

    @cubejockey:

    I cringe when Jim Cramer says anything.

    Isn’t Sears Holdings still trying to be a pseudo hedge fund?

  20. B says:

    The mall in my town is anchored by a Sears and a K-Mart, if they go out of business, it’ll kill that mall. Not that there’s much worth saving among the other stores there.

  21. bohemian says:

    I think what needs to go is Eddie Lampert.

    He hasn’t had a single idea that has worked, most have made things worse.

    Does anyone remember when Sears bought Kmart? They were going to totally revamp a bunch of stores to make them relevant to today? They put new grey & black register counters, carts and bathroom stalls in our old 1960’s era Kmart. But it still had the yellowed broken linoleum, light fixtures and everything else from when it opened. The place was falling apart and a filthy dump. The people that worked there were utterly apathetic. About a year later they closed that store in their consolidation. Now we have two smaller ones in the bad part of town and they both look like they barely survived a natural disaster.

  22. jadenton says:

    I like Sears. I walk through the store ever time I go to the Mall. They ALWAYS have good parking at their end of the lot.

  23. RedSonSuperDave says:

    I used to like Sears. I used to shop at the Panama City Sears all the time.

    Then my Craftsman ratcheting socket wrench stopped ratcheting and the idiot behind the counter wouldn’t replace it because it “wasn’t broken”. I asked to speak to a manager and he said that it could still be used as a wrench, so therefore it wasn’t broken and they wouldn’t replace it.

    Because they wouldn’t replace a twelve-dollar wrench, I’ve taken my business to places like Lowes or Home Depot.

  24. buckfutt says:

    I haven’t been in a K-Mart that wasn’t a dump in the last 20 years. I haven’t been in a Sears that wasn’t painfully out of date and overpriced in the last 30 years. They deserve to go broke.

  25. DeeJayQueue says:

    I think a lot of K-Mart’s problem is that they picked shitty locations. A lot of the stores that I know of are in bad areas or derelict strip malls that were once thriving in the late 70s–mid 80s. Lipstick and Mascara aren’t going to help these stores.

    Case in point: There’s a mall I grew up near called the MacDade mall. At one end is an Acme, at the other a KMart. When I was little, the place had a RadioShack, a Fashion Bug, a tobacco store, a leather store, a bank, a Payless Shoes, an Italian restaurant, a movie theatre, an arcade etc. All in a mall about 150 yards long. We used to go there because they had a hot dog stand that was fantastic. I went in there about 6 months ago for a hot dog. All of the stores were boarded up, except for an independent clothing shop, the Fashion Bug/Fashion Bug Plus/Fashion Bug Petite/Fashion Bug Girls “thing” and the bank at the other end. K-Mart is now the destination for that whole piece of real estate. There’s a Ruby’s, a Commerce Bank, and a Burger King in the front lot, but aside from the Acme, there’s no other reason to go there.

    Meanwhile, Walmart is putting stores up in affluent developments, next to Home Depots and Lowes, where shoppers have an abundance of reasons to be in that area. It’s way easier to be out at Best Buy and make a stop at Walmart and Lowes than it is to trudge all the way out to Crackton to shop in the dimly lit, yellowed shelving-ed, dated K-Mart.

  26. TacoDave says:

    @jadenton: Touche’. I always park outside them too, where there are no other people.

  27. mbz32190 says:

    Kmart has killed themselves. Half-assed remodels are not appealing to anyone. My local Kmart was okay, but they scaled back in hardware, sporting goods, and automotive for a large Sears appliance section! Whenever I am there I have never seen one person in that department besides a few commissioned employees milling about. I needed something simple for my car and of course they did not have it, so off to Wal-Mart I went.

    While Wal-Mart isn’t my favorite place to shop, at least they’ll have more than one cashier on and the store is somewhat modern.

  28. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @bohemian:
    You hit it on the nose!
    Lampert, for some insane reason thinks he’s a merchandising genius.
    Why?
    Who the hell knows. He apparently thinks that because he made a shitload of money in hedge funds, he’s now qualified to run a giant retailer.
    Kmart is just a disaster & Sears has suffered through one crazy CEO after another.

    Based on their operation of their Chicago stores, Sears seems to have at least two warring camps in the executive offices.
    For the last 25 years, they’ve been fighting over how to replace the aged, hopelessly out of date store on Lawrence Ave. The parking lot is a block away.
    One plan after another has been announced & not one of them has been carried out.
    That’s the sign of a completely dysfunctional management team.

    I also saw a blind item today about a large retailer deciding to close all its stores & go completely online.
    That sure sounds like Sears & Kmart.
    And it shows that Lampert is an idiot!

  29. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    I agree with earlier posters. K-Mart needs to revamp their image. I think they can compete, but the store does take you back a few years when you walk in: Crowded isles, in your face displays, inefficient check out lines, overhead paging, muzak from 40 years ago. Come on – time to brighten up and fresh up. I usually go there when I don’t want to deal with a lot of people – because there aren’t that many customers compared to Wally World, Target or the others!

    It seems like the place knows it needs to do something to survive, but just doesn’t have a clue what they need to do.

  30. boomerang86 says:

    Sam Walton cleaned Kreske’s clock DECADES ago. It’s a two store game today, Wal-Mart vs. Target. There are no other viable competitors; K-Mart is a twitching corpse IMHO.

    Sears could be brought back from oblivion if only they brought back quality merchandise AND customer service. Without that combination, they are dust.

  31. lelliott74 says:

    What really killed part of Sears was putting Craftsman tools in K-Mart. That brand has long been trusted and now it is a joke (to me at least). The real kicker is that they sell it at K-Mart but still charge Sears prices for it!

    Here are some of my thoughts…
    1) Both Sears and K-Mart have outdated stores
    2) Both have more employees who could care less about helping you
    3) K-Mart is NEVER clean. It always looks like a bomb went off in every aisle and they never stop to clean it up.
    4) Location, location, location…always an issue. (DeeJay Queue is right on this one)
    5) Both fail to offer value added services like free delivery, free shipping if you have your product delivered to a store via online purchase, etc…
    6) No loyalty. Sears cut through their ranks years ago and shafted the majority of their long term labor force without remorse and in doing so they lost the respect of so many loyal shoppers (like myself) who had family or friends involved in this. With this latest issue it looks like K-Mart is going to take the same road.
    7) They need a real shake up from the top down. Cut away the fat in management who are overpaid for nothing, cut prices and update your stores.
    8) Poorly trained employees. Would it kill you to learn about the products your area covers???

    Ugh…I could go on and on but it looks like we all share the same thoughts on this.

  32. lmbrownmail says:

    I haven’t shopped in a K-Mart in years. My perception of them is that they are dirty and their merchandise is basically cheap stuff.

    As to Sears – I go there a few times a year. BUT – only to get Land’s End stuff on sale. I have no use for anything else there. Even that;s a hassle. There’s usually only two people on a floor that’s the size of half a football field to ring up your purchases.

  33. WhoMee says:

    The last time I went into SEARs the P.A. announcements were all in Spanish, not even with an English repeat. I felt like a foreigner in my own country. The place was dumpy and needed paint.

  34. DeafLEGO says:

    All I have to say is FUCKING DUH! They should have never bought K-Mart in the first place.

  35. HOP says:

    gee, good for them…..i’ll really miss them both when they are gone…..

  36. WickedKoala says:

    @B: Do you by any chance live in Galesburg, IL? The mall there is anchored by Sears, KMart, Penny’s and Bergners (I think) – talk about a budding metropolis of retail bliss.

  37. el_smurfo says:

    @WhoMee:

    Yeah, I really enjoy buying my pants in the “Caballeros” section. The funny thing, in Santa Barbara, the Sears is the closest store to posh Hope Ranch, but the only people shopping/working there are spanish speakers.

  38. GriffonJames says:

    Let’s face it. Department store merchandise items are now commodities. I can get a nice $5 t-shirt or a decent $10 polo shirt at Old Navy, Target, Walmart, K-mart, or any of a half-dozen other stores. With similar prices and quality, the only differentiator is my shopping experience. Give me a clean store with convenient parking and a polite, helpful staff, and that’s where I’ll spend my time and money.
    Years ago, I would have ranked K-mart as comparable to Target. But Target invested in an image; higher quality than Walmart and less expensive than JC Penneys. The only reason I’ve found to seek out a K-mart in the last 5 years was a battery promotion that yielded a gift card worth more than the batteries. Went through the line 5 times for that one. :-)

  39. milqtost says:

    @mbz32190: Wow, what Walmart do you shop at? The few times I decide to slum and go into a Walmart, they have 473 lanes with exactly one cashier working. And 20 people in that line all with 600 items in their cart.

  40. I haven’t been inside of a K-Mart in…..12, 13 years? Something like that.

    It’s pretty sad when you have people, like myself, who only look through your weekly ad to see what you have on sale so you can price-match it elsewhere.

  41. likewhatever says:

    K-Mart bought Sears, not the other way around. Eddie Lampert was the Chairman of K-Mart Holding and now he is the chairman of Sears Holding. Both chains are sick, their new found synergy will just accelerate their end.

  42. mcjake says:

    I could have sworn they already went bankrupt 6 years ago. Whatever happened to that?

  43. consumerd says:

    I can bet costco is waiting till they go belly up and buy them at a cheap price and then we will all have a bunch of mini-costcos’ lying around.

    Good plan I say.

  44. marsneedsrabbits says:

    @SkokieGuy:

    Maybe the dagger option is a bit much, but I agree that they have absolutely no shame and no sense of responsibility.

    Zero accountability.

    Sears buys KMart, both brands suffer, the stock suffers (here is the stock history – click on the one year tab: [quote.morningstar.com]

    But management doesn’t care.

    Top management in so many companies make bonuses so out of proportion with any sort of performance and do so even when sales are close to non-existent.

    It’s like a sick joke.

  45. Akamaru says:

    Kudos to Target, they saw the tides changing and they decided they didn’t want to be a just another crappy store.

    I don’t know what the deal is with Kmart or Sears. Or Blockbuster and Circuit City for that matter. By merging and maintaining the same crappy business practices things will magically get better?

    Sears sucks, the only reason I would ever go there is if I couldn’t find the item I was looking for anywhere else. And when I do go there I don’t even bother to ask someone questions about my purchase, you have to be your own sales person in the store, since no one knows anything about the products they sell.

    Someone needs to pull the plug on these vegetable companies if they don’t want to try and compete.

    P.S. Competition doesn’t mean firing all of your experienced employees to save $2.50 an hour per employee in wages. Sure the accountants think it’s a good idea, but the customers kind of need customer service at the end of the day. I’m look at you Circuit City.

  46. drjayphd says:

    @david_consumerist: I’ll take a dozen of whatever you’re selling.

  47. CaptZ says:

    @bohemian:
    Kmart bought Sears…….not the other way. It was shortly after they came out of bk. Must be nice to be able to shed all that debt and then buy a then major retailer. If I was one of the companies who’s debt was fogiven by the courts, I would have sued to stop the deal.

    Anyway…..rumours are rampant that Walmart is in talks with Sears to carry Craftsmen soon. Very hush hush. If Sears could sell off Craftsmen but continue to sell them, they would survive for a little longer. But both Kmart and Sears are surviving in life support at this time.

    Target is the only real competition to Walmart….both together killed off Kmart

  48. ChicagoRetailGuy says:

    It should be noted that it was Kmart that bought Sears, not Sears that bought Kmart. After the bankruptcy Eddie picked up Kmart on the cheap then he sold a lot of Kmart real estate to raise the cash to buy Sears. Why, I’ll never know since he is destroying both banners. I worked in Hoffman and have lived the nightmare. The Sears Essential/Grand thing was a mess from the beginning. The Kmart remodels were an amazingly half-assed process that defied logic. The company lacks any senior leadership with retail experience and Eddie micromanages the whole thing – I’ve seen it firsthand. Now they have embarked on the most bizarre reorganization plan imaginable that will result in increased chaos by the end of the year. Thus, I sadly left a lot of coworkers I really liked because there was no leadership, direction or vision.

  49. TWinter says:

    I do go to K-Mart from time to time because it’s the closest to my house. If they do go belly up, I pray that Target swoops in and grabs the location – I would love to have a Target on my side of town.

  50. Leofan7 says:

    Back when there was a K-Mart near me (Denton, TX), my mom, grandma and I would always go there. Almost weekly. We all had our prescriptions there and pretty much all of our bath towels and housewares came from that little gem on University Drive. It was actually a pretty good store. It was pretty clean, the staff was helpful, (especially in the pharmacy,) and the prices were pretty good. I was about eleven or twelve when it closed during the bankruptcy, and I do remember its last few years as being pretty rough. The transition to the “BigK” joke was not a good one, with all of the aisles being squeezed together and cheap signage and decor pasted across the store.

    Today, I think that K-Mart could still have a chance if they moved more upscale. Personally, I think K-Mart could have a better chance at recovery than Sears can. The Sears in Denton isn’t too bad, but I really can’t stand the bilingual signage and the outdated electronics section. It might be a good idea if they just scrap Sears, rename all of the Sears to K-Mart, and build a completely new image for the company.

  51. we loose and what will happen to the prices at WallyWorld?

    No competition or less competition always equals higher prices.

    My wallet votes for Kmart to say around a bit longer.

  52. @Corporate-Shill:

    SearsMart

  53. TheNewDecider says:

    Sell the real estate while it’s still worth something. Lampert has pissed away 99% of the brand value and pissed off all of the life long customers, so the stores are worthless.

  54. S3CT says:

    Back in the 80s Kmart was a dump and it still is. Sears has the brand recognition with Craftsman but they need to sell it off to a more successful corporation to keep the name alive. You can already buy tools with the same guarantee/warranty from Lowes for much less money.

  55. mac-phisto says:

    1) replace pretty much everything you sell
    2) replace pretty much everybody that works there
    3) replace your entire executive team

    yeah…that should be easy.

    the sad part is the brands that suffer under this weight. kenmore makes great appliances (imho) & craftsman are some of the best tools out there (at least for hand tools). & sears…well, they’ve been around for over 100 years.

    if they did those 3 things, i honestly think they could thrive.

  56. quail says:

    @DeeJayQueue: Good point. K-Mart’s biggest fault was not moving out of bad locations fast enough. At least Wal-Mart did that. Left a slew of stores in their wake. You know where K-Mart could clean up at, brick and mortar wise? Investing in small stores that could service small communities. Lots of places had Wal-Marts move away because they wanted a bigger store 45 minutes away. In the end they were left with nothing in the town. These towns would be big enough to keep a small discounter in operation. People do pay for convenience.

    @DeafLEGO: If I remember wasn’t it K-Mart that bought Sears? Or was it just the ordering in which Lampert bought those? As to Lands’ End, does anyone know how that buy out was originally structured? It felt to me it was a hands-off deal kinda like McDonald’s buying into Chipotle. Or am I wrong on this? I’ve always worried about Lands’ End since Sears got into the picture.

  57. TPS Reporter says:

    Kind of sad in a nostalgic kind of way. We shopped at KMart when I was a kid all the time, though that was mid to late 70’s. Of course that was before we had Walmart, although we did have Target (in Arizona). I remember getting their Icee’s. I was in a KMart about 7 years ago and it was time to go out of business then.

  58. MaliBoo Radley says:

    You know, we said goodbye to both Caldor and Montgomery Ward. There is no reason not to say goodbye to K-Mart as well.

  59. frankthefink says:

    I have to agree with the geography thing. Ours is in town anchoring a plaza full of big lots and tax services. There’s just no reason to be in that part of town. Wal-mart, on the other hand, is right at a big intersection where lots of people live and work. It just makes sense.
    And I don’t think it was image or store quality- look how well wal-mart does with a miserable shopping experience and an even worse image. Most people would put up with even worse if the price was lower.
    Right place, right price. Kmart has neither.

  60. geoffhazel says:

    I never saw how the Kmart thing ever made any sense. Sears was a store that had most everything, and should be able to hold their own against JC Penny. (should). But Kmart was adrift, not as low priced as WalMart, tackier than Target, they were edged out of the market.

    So if Sears loses Kmart, and gets some people to help them really compete against Penny’s and Target, they should do OK.

    should.

  61. synergy says:

    Kmart has been gone from San Antonio for some 6-8 years. I was much amused this past weekend to actually see one in Monterrey Mexico. I grew up poor and wearing Goodwill and Kmart. Kmart was the place to run around and “window shop.”

  62. dazette says:

    The Sears -KMart partnership worked out so well for them, that now if we could just get them to buy Macy’s maybe they could put a nail in that coffin, too.

  63. ruffedges says:

    Maybe Kmart should sell off those antique merry go rounds they have out front – raise a little money. Any Kmart I’ve been to in the last 20 years looks like it’s been looted.

  64. IronLung2533 says:

    Kmart died for me when their selection fell apart. When I lived in a smaller town where they were the only thing going, the store was pretty nice and you could find pretty much whatever you needed. Now I live in a bigger place, with 3 Wallys, 2 Targets, 3 Meijers and 3 K’s, and the K’s have actually been pretty much looted (shoplifting is rampant) of the small amount of merchandise they still carry. Toy selection sucks, electronics selection sucks, it all sucks. The only thing going for the Sears here is the portrait studio. Too bad it doesn’t belong to them.

  65. Trojan69 says:

    Cramer was absolutely correct as to the valuation of Sears Holdings two years ago. The properties, by themselves, justified higher share prices. Cramer said again and again that if the stores could just eke out any profits, it would just be icing on the cake.

    Now,however,with the real estate collapse, the company is in big trouble.

    Sayanara, K-Mart. So long, Sears.

  66. FLConsumer says:

    Everyone here has said what needs to be said. KMart & Sears are past their prime, Sears needs an overhaul, KMart’s a lost cause.

    And yes, Sears is the best place to park at the mall.

    I also want to point out that Wal-Mart has closed several stores in the area when the stores became too disgusting and too small, then built new super stores in better areas. And this is Wal-Mart for crying out loud! They’re usually the most grimy, filthiest stores in the area.

  67. guilliam says:

    My dad bought a Craftsman weedeater at Sears last week, took it home and it wouldn’t stay running so he went right back to the store where they had to hear it run first and then gave him a new one that he took home and it wouldn’t stay running either. By that time the store was closed (the one in our town closes at 6) so the next day he returned it for his $$ back and went to Tractor Supply and bought a Stihl brand from there. I told him not to buy a Craftsman!

    Sears and Kmart need to either improve their customer service and merchandise quality or go bankrupt. Personally, I don’t care which because I no longer shop at either place, their prices are too high, customer service sucks, and quality of merchandise is poor.

  68. highmodulus says:

    Good works guys, you just might beat Blockbuster, Circuit City or JC Penny to bankruptcy yet.

  69. battra92 says:

    @mac-phisto: the sad part is the brands that suffer under this weight. kenmore makes great appliances (imho) & craftsman are some of the best tools out there (at least for hand tools). & sears…well, they’ve been around for over 100 years.

    Well, Sears never made anything. Kenmore and Craftsman are both made by other companies and I’m sure the names will be sold off.

    Sears is good for nostalgia. K-Mart is just sad.

  70. battra92 says:

    @highmodulus: Good works guys, you just might beat Blockbuster, Circuit City or JC Penny to bankruptcy yet.

    See, I hope JC Penny can turn around. Seems they are the only place that sells stuff that fits me or at least did before I lost 25 lbs. I should probably shop around more.

  71. captadam says:

    @TacoDave: On the contrary, I wish old-school department stores would come back in force. Sears is a pale imitation of an old-school department store. Boscov’s, a Pennsylvania chain, is one company that does the old-school department store thing right. It can be done, and it SHOULD be done–I think we’re heading into a long period of centralization, with high fuel prices reversing the decades-long process of decentralization. True department stores are one way to bring that about.

  72. Brunette Bookworm says:

    It would be sad if Kmart closed. I remember shopping there as a kid but, like others said, they just haven’t maintained their stores. In the town I live in, most of the shopping is being built on one end of town, near the Super Wal-mart and Target, but Kmart is the only similar store on the other end of town. They are near income based housing and apartments for the elderly. Many of these people can’t easily make it to the other side of town. It would be nice if Kmart fixed themselves up and actually looked nice to shop at. The shopping center they are in is being completely tore down, except for them, and being remodeled. I had hopes that Kmart would do the same. Sometimes I can find things there I can’t find other places but since it’s such a dingy, worn out, out-dated store, I just don’t go in there that often. It sounds like many people have the same reason for not shopping there.

  73. crackle says:

    it doesn’t help that their website’s javascript is broken and 95% of the time you can’t really checkout your cart. oh and things that display “in stock” are actually not. pretty annoying experience. their online store is keeping in sync with their physical stores.

  74. AngryEddy says:

    There are two Sears stores within 30 minutes of me to the north or east, and both are the exact same. The merchandise is of a dubious quality, of limited selection, usually hailing from the early 90’s, and what there is to choose from is sparse. There are roughly 8 people working in the entire store at any given time, and 5 of them are usually on their break – but that’s okay, because whenever I’m walking through it, there’s about 4 customers shopping. How these two stores have remained open for the last few years confuses me. They’ve been this awful for years.

  75. Chairman-Meow says:

    Its funny but in the real world(tm) we do not expect an auto mechanic to be able to write software. So why do we expect a Hedge-Fund manager to run a retail business ?

    Oh wait, that’s right! ANY high level executive is able to run ANY business! How many times has this been proven wrong again and again? Hmmm, Home Depot comes to mind.

    What arrogance. Eddie Lampert suffers from too much ego. His empire is crumbling all around him but it is high food & gas prices that is causing his troubles; not his complete lack of leadership skills in retail management.

    Of course, when the ship finally sinks, he will likely still get his golden parachute and be able to wheedle his way onto another CEO position just like Nardelli did.

  76. revmatty says:

    Maybe it’s my low expectations for retail experiences in general, but I’ve bought appliances for two houses over the past ten years at various places including Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Sears. Sears won on price, installation quality, and service hands down through all my experiences, though Lowe’s and HD had better selection on certain items.

  77. captadam says:

    @Front_Towards_Enemy: Thank you, thank you. I had to sound like a curmudgeon, but what happened to the idea that a person worked his way up through the ranks–beginning on the sales floor and progressing into management? Now, some jackass thinks he can walk into ANY business with an MBA in hand and know what to do. Cranking out spreadsheets doesn’t tell you anything about the actual business you’re trying to run.

  78. bohemian says:

    @battra92: JcPenney could end up next in line if they don’t get a clue. While Penneys is still far far better than Sears, the quality of the clothes is unreliable. We have bought a number of clothing items only to have seams come undone, holes show up in knit weaves or shirt that lose their shape after proper washing. They are really hit or miss. Since they are more expensive that places like Target you expect a bit more reliability. While our Penneys store is far better in all aspects than Sears they have been overcrowding the store with merchandise, areas like shoes are always a mess and the store has not been remodeled since the early 90’s and it is starting to show.
    Macy’s every day bargain brands are starting to beat out Penneys.

  79. Anyone remember Jamesway? Everyone talks about growing up and going to Kmart, I remember Jamesway here in Upstate NY.

    I see a doomcloud, and feel deja vu….

  80. P.S.- Our Sears isn’t all that bad in our mall. It’s big, clean, lots of sales reps, prices are “decent”. But they also have to compete with Target, JcPenney, and Kauffman’s.

  81. EPIC FAIL! We totally called it when the merged, that two wrongs don’t make a right.

    After the recession, I can only see very upscale and very downscale retailers surviving. After all, they should be mirroring the widening wealth gap. Or at least the perception of one, where upscale shoppers refuse to shop at something even resembling downscale. If I were sears/kmart, I’d start going much cheaper to compete with Walmart and the family dollar.

  82. gqcarrick says:

    When was the last time any of us actually shopped at Kmart? I think my last time was about 2 years ago, and as much as I hate Walmart, I live in the country and thats all there is so its slim pickings out here.

  83. Meltingemail says:

    Hm! I was thinking of picking up a Craftsman drill and I’ve been putting it off. Now I’ll be watching like a hawk to see if we get any “going out of business” sales.

  84. failurate says:

    The Kmart brand name is so tainted that they would need a buyout, new name, remodel and then maybe three or four more buyouts with new names and remodels just to free of the taint.

  85. captadam says:

    @verucalise: Ahhh, Jamesway. Jamesway started to get the smell near the end. After it went belly-up, a few Jamesway locations I knew were taken over by Ames. Ames got the smell, too. Soon after, it was gone.

  86. Disturbedearth says:

    I walked into our new Sears Grand last night looking to drop around $450 on several items – on a Sears card no less.

    As usual the employees far outnumbered the shoppers. I went right to the area where the main item of interest was and stood there. And stood there. Walked around, came back, stood there.

    In that process of about 20 minutes I probably saw 8-10 different employees going in other directions. 3 employees actually told me someone would be with me shortly as they quickly passed right by me. So… I walked out – as I usually seem to do – frustrated and empty handed.

    Sears had great customer service once. But that was a long time ago. I cannot see how they will even stay in business thru the end of the year at their current rate of miserable service.

  87. Scoobatz says:

    I’ve only been to K-Mart twice in the last couple of years. And, each time I left the store, I felt like I needed to run home and take a shower. K-Mart stores are disgusting. Unless they make substantial improvements in the shopping experience (e.g. atmosphere, lighting, cleanliness, organization), I will only go back after Target, then Walmart are out of stock of something I need and can’t wait for.

  88. quail says:

    @revmatty: Right after Kmart took over Sears, they had one of those buy out plans to oust senior executives and to save money. Anyone who didn’t take it was pressured out later. They lost a lot of corporate history in doing that. People who could’ve stood up and said something was a bad idea wasn’t there anymore. Case in point: Executives living in northern climates thought it would be a good idea to have ALL of the stores turn off their A/C at night during the summer. “Think of the savings,” I bet they were saying. None of these guys had any Southern experience. Those poor A/C units would work all day to bring the humidity levels down in their stores only to be turned off again at night. Cost savings would have been negligible. Never heard how that ‘experiment’ turned out for them. My insider friend took a buy out package shortly after that decision was made and was much happier for it.

  89. quagmire0 says:

    It’s all too little, too late IMO. Target and Walmart are totally aggressive, and as previous posters have said, are building in desirable locations right next to nice, new shopping centers. Hell, I just had a SuperWalmart open up by me and there’s a fairly new Target right across from that.

    Sears/Kmart should have immediately moved to build new locations and abandon the old ones. You even see JCPenney building standalone stores out here to compete with Kohl’s. At least I give them an A for effort.

  90. APowerCosmic says:

    The last time I shopped at K-Mart was a going out of business sale where I bought a Gamecube that they were selling at 40% off to clear out the inventory. And this was back when the Cube had only been out less than a year.

    As a former Sears employee, none of the comments here surprise me. The reason there is a skeleton crew on hand at most Sears stores is because they are scheduled for less than 15 hours a week because they aren’t making much if any money. My very good friend gave her notice this week as they cut her hours from right under 35 to less than 10. Sears is in a downward spiral. The last time I bought anything from them was when I bought my PS3 in January. And the absolute ONLY reason I got it there was because they never turned off my discount card so I got it cheaper than retail.

    Sears and K-Mart is a dying breed. I can recall sitting in on sales meetings when I was there, and the leadership was a joke. Many is the time I would “Okay, guys! The key to better customer service is our dress code. Some of you haven’t been wearing your white and black dress clothes and the customers are picking up o it.” A week later, that guy is gone and the new manager (an endlessly irritating woman) comes in with “You know that 24 hr. delivery guarantee sign we have out front? Here’s how you talk the customer out of it! We only do that in emergencies, make sure the customer realizes that.”

    It was at points like this I knew my former workplace was going to die, and I had to escape the ship which I did.

  91. GothGirl says:

    Here in Memphis,TN.. all the K Marts are closed. And we don’t miss them… I say bring back Jamesway! lol…

  92. cookmefud says:

    the stores should be torn down and the spaces they consume converted to fields of sunflowers.

    that would serve the communities they are in more than the crap that’s there now.

  93. DugR2 says:

    Just like a lot of other people, I remember shopping at K-Mart as a kid with my mom. K-Mart was the only place to shop in the town we lived in. Seriously. You either shopped at K-Mart or Walgreens or you didn’t shop. There was a “nice” K-Mart by my house and a “dirty” K-Mart across town. My favorite part about going to K-Mart as a child was the Little Caeser’s Pizza at the back of the store. It was almost a treat to make it all the way through to the back of the store and get to smell that cheesy goodness! The “nice” K-Mart closed back in 2002 or 2003 when K-Mart filed for bankruptcy. The “dirty” K-Mart is still open and serves 3 customers a day.

    Fast forward a few years (and a move to the Chicago suburbs) and now I have 2 Wal-Marts, a Super Wal-Mart, a Super Target, a Target, a Meijer, and a K-Mart by my house just for my shopping pleasure. My usual store is almost always Super Target, but now that we have a Super Wal-Mart, I find myself shopping there more and more for groceries and everyday items. The new Super Wal-Mart is in an up-and-coming area surrounded by new condos and businesses and definitely has a mix of rich and poor shoppers.

    But, getting back to business, I decided to go into the K-Mart a few months ago just to see how it was. I have to say, it wasn’t bad, but there just wasn’t anything to make me want to shop there over Super Target or Super Wal-Mart. I feel as if K-Mart is frozen in time. When I stepped through those doors, it was 1989 again in my mind!

    If K-Mart wants to survive, they need to choose where they are going as a company. It’s as simple as that. They need to figure out who they are trying to target.

    To make an example of this, look at Land Rover. They don’t seem to be suffering, even in our supposed “recession,” because the super rich will always have money to spend on things that show (the poor and the not as rich) they are rich. Similarly, Aldi stores aren’t suffering because the poor will always need to find a way to save money even on basics like groceries.

    If K-Mart would move to one end of the spectrum or the other, consumers would know WHY they should shop there. Like another poster said, maybe K-Mart should try to go upscale. There are a lot of affluent older people who used to shop at K-Mart back in the 80s when they were younger (with kids) who would probably come flocking back (from Target and even Wal-Mart) if K-Mart were to choose that end of the spectrum. Same goes if K-Mart decided to go down a more “discount store that’s nicer than Dollar General” route. People almost always want to feel like they are getting something for nothing. There is a segment of the population who shop at Dollar General simply because of the prices, but would love to shop at a store like Target if they could afford it. There you go K-Mart. There’s a niche for you!

    So, here’s my message to K-Mart: You are not the only game in town anymore, so stop pretending like your outdated and sometimes less-than-favorable stores will skimp by based on the reputation you built 20 years ago. It just doesn’t fly anymore. Consumers are (rightfully) smart these days. If you try to sell them 2 apples for $1, they will look to see where they can Buy 2 and get 1 for free.

    Sway me K-Mart. I’m an easily swayed consumer. Refresh your stores, including products, prices and employees, and I may just come back. And so might a lot of other consumers. Don’t give up without even trying.

    By the way, this is my first post on The Consumerist! I’m a long time lurker, and this post just made me want to leave a comment. :)

  94. Jasoco says:

    @B: I remember a mall I used to go to as a kid was anchored by a Jamesway. When Jamesway went out of business the mall sunk faster than the Titanic. They don’t call them anchors for nothing. If the large stores go away, the rest will crumble like a house of cards. Checkmate.

    @bohemian: Anyway, I worked at Kmart for 4 years. From 2003 to last year. In about 2005 the refurbishment happened. They totally redid the whole store from end to end… but as you said, they didn’t do a thing with the old tiles on the floor and ceiling. Fixtures were changed but the rest was just shifted. They dropped the One Hour Photo section (After spending a year pushing it like hell.) completely. Though I guess it’s fine anyway since film is dying anyway.

    It’s a flagship store in Doylestown, PA. One of the very first to go through the transition. Unfortunately the transition just made the company worse. Half-assed transition is all it was. Shifting things around with new fixtures isn’t the same as actually ripping eeverything out and starting anew. Apparently every transitioned store got 1 million bucks to use for it. Doesn’t look like a million bucks to me. They kept all the old fixtures like shelves and tried to just paint them thinking that would cover up the rust and dings.

    They screwed me over anyway. I was originally in electronics. I know electronics. But over time they preferred to put me on the registers. And when someone needed help in electronics they took someone who didn’t know a thing to help. I had to get out of there. Should have left years before.

    All my friends still work there, except my best friend who left for CVS. I still go in every week. The managers love me. And even though I don’t work there anymore I feel at home. But I hate to say it, in a really twisted way, I wish the company would just fold.

    Sears should just absorb Kmart back into itself, close half the stores, create one single brand and try to salvage themselves. I got a job down the row from my old Kmart job so I can “Watch it collapse under its own weight” from the outside. Rather than the inside this time.

  95. cannedpizza says:

    Every K-Mart I’ve ever been to was filthy, disorganized, and in disrepair. Repainting the counters is not enough. Sears is a little better aesthetically (all their lights are usually working, at least) but still feels old and half-abandoned. They’re in decent locations around here, too. It baffles me how they don’t seem to realize an unpleasant atmosphere drives customers AWAY.

  96. MrsLopsided says:

    I feel poor when I walk into a Kmart. I feel like a wise bargain hunter when I walk into a Walmart.

  97. MartaLachesis says:

    I shop at Kmart about once a week. They have pretty good bargains and selection. I like Target more, but K-Mart has a sort of nostalgia. K-Mart also has good private-labels like Route 66, Jaclyn Smith (clothing and housewares), and American Fare (Groceries, OTCs etc.).