Why It Sucks To Be Sears Right Now

Five years after their merger, how are Sears and Kmart faring? Not so well. The company faces deteriorating stores in near-abandoned malls, fierce competition in nearly every category, locations that were prime retail space in about 1974, and snarky consumer bloggers that mock the company at every turn. Oh.

The 2005 merger was supposed to bring together the best parts of two venerable but faltering American brands. Five years later, the recession has affected business at both Sears and Kmart badly enough that executives are starting to notice that something is wrong.

What keeps customers away? Lower prices elsewhere, poor service, and the intangible feeling of dankness and despair in most Kmart and Sears stores. That last problem is the most expensive to fix, so they’re going to back-burner it for now. David Friedman, senior vice president and president of marketing, told the New York Times in an interview:

“The in-store experience is one of those that matters a lot, and we believe that the physical plant is one piece of it, but we believe the associates and the products drive the in-store experience.”

Good luck with that. What would Sears have to change or offer in order to earn your money and/or loyalty?

A Tough Sell at Sears [New York Times] (Thanks, Howard!)

FURTHER READING:
Sears Still Has Customers, Can’t Manage To Sell Them Actual Merchandise
10 Confessions Of A Kmart Manager
Sears Has Your Mower And Doesn’t Feel Like Answering The Phone
Sears Epic Pricing Error Leaves Hundreds With Canceled Snowblower Orders
These Martha Stewart/Kmart Lounge Chairs Keep Cutting Off Fingertips
Sears Chairman Unleashes 15-Page Manifesto About Um, Everything
Sears, Don’t Make Me Give My Dad A Box Of Air Filters For Christmas

Comments

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  1. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    I agree with the suit. If the people made shopping at KMart or Sears less of a soul-sucking experience, then the store environment might not be so bad. Isn’t that what most of us Consumerists want? A well-trained and helpful staff who knows the products and won’t try to over (or under) sell something? (cf the Ultimate Electronics post …)

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Stores that don’t smell of vomit, urine, and mold would help too. The last time I walked into a Sears, I took one whiff of the stale stench, turned right around and walked out.

      My advice to Friedman: Either plan on spending many millions on renovations, staff training, and better pay, or just file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and end the misery.

  2. Holybalheadedchrist! says:

    Pros – Sears has it for their Craftsman line of products. I like their mowers, snowblowers, tools, etc. Also, I have yet to be disappointed by the company for any warranty or return situation. I know many have, but my experience has generally been very good.

    Cons – The stores themselves are usually very run-of-the-mill. They carry limited selections of clothes, housewares, and anything outside of appliances.

    When I bought a mower, I didn’t think twice about going to Lowes or Menards. Sears had exactly what I needed at a good price, and good quality. When I bought a washer and dryer, I liked having knowledgeable staff to show me better quality pieces at better prices. This is their strength and it shows.

    But I would never, ever, start with Sears when I’m looking for a pair of pants, a new shirt, a suitcase, or any of the other myriad items they offer. When my kid needed gloves, and we happened to be at the mall, we tried Sears–almost everything was “designer” and not meant for the cold up here in Grand Forks, ND.

    Stick to what you do best, Sears: Being a great alternative to the lousy service and obnoxious conditions at Best Buy.

    • stock2mal says:

      Craftsman products have gone way down hill the past decade or so. Many of the power tools are garbage for the most part, and are made by other companies like Ryobi and Rockwell, same thing for their lawn and garden power tools.

      You can find many comparable tools with a lifetime warranty for less, brand recognition is the only thing going for Sears right now with Craftsman, period. The tools are obviously not innovative or reasonably priced.

      • HighontheHill says:

        Please cite a specific example of a tool with no strings lifetime warranty, like Craftsman, for less.

        I purchase a lot of tools and for the money and the effortless replacement, walk in broken walk out brand new, Craftsman is tough to beat around here; but I’d be interested to know where your finding the deals.

        I also find that Craftsman brings some pretty innovative hand-tools to market.

        • Silverhawk says:

          For hand tools, Kobalt from Lowe’s. I’ve generally had good luck with Craftsman, even exchanging some stuff without hassle that’s not technically lifetime anymore, but it’s getting harder and more items are cheaply made, but yet priced higher. So now I’m buying Kobalt hand tools when I need them.

    • TooManyHobbies says:

      Most of the Sears-branded stuff isn’t made by, or even exclusive to, Sears anymore.

      A few years back we were shopping for a new full-size freezer, went to Lowes, found one we liked best, went to Sears across the parking lot, the one we liked there was, surprise, exactly the same fridge but with a “Kenmore” label on it, slightly different shelving inside, and $200 more expensive. And they wouldn’t budge on the price, so we went back to Lowes.

      Craftsman tools are OK, but are no longer anything very special. And you MUST buy them on sale or they’re horrible deals. The better (non power) tools at Harbor Freight are actually not that much different than Craftsman anymore (they’ve gotten better, Craftsman has gotten worse) – and yes, the Harbor Freight stuff isn’t guaranteed for life, but it’s also something like 1/6th the price. Given that hardly any of my hand tools break, I can take a hit on replacing a broken tool once in a while, when I can buy several of them for the cost of one Craftsman tool.

      I might even go for the more expensive Craftsman stuff if it was made in the US, but it’s made in China same as nearly everything else, so what the heck.

      • Holybalheadedchrist! says:

        I was mainly talking about the Craftsman power tools, like mowers, snowblowers, etc. Those are not all made in China. They have the Briggs and Stratton engine I prefer and hold up very well. I am saying I wouldn’t go to Sears for much else, and up here, their prices are almost always lower than competitors–and their yard machines come with better standard equipment. The sales staff has impressed me with their knowledge, so I’m gona keep going there in stead of my local, no personality, big box.

      • MrEvil says:

        For the very rare tool user Harbor freight will get the job done. However, when you got a stuck brake caliper bolt on a truck that’s seen one too many icy winters Craftsman (Or even Lowe’s Kobalt brand) is definitely the best value, at least I can put a 2′ cheater pipe on a Craftsman Ratchet and not have to worry about the damn thing failing (I didn’t need the flesh on those knuckles anyway). The only hand tools out there that are better than Craftsman are found on tool trucks at many times the price.

        I’ve also had way too many harbor freight sockets not be the proper size. They have very lax manufacturing standards.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      On the topic of gloves, some of the warmed one I have found are the cheaps ones with sports logos on them (about $6-7/pair, I think). I didn’t realize how good they were until I was shoveling snow in -10 weather a while ago. I didn’t notice the cold on my hands until I took off a glove to put down some salt – and nearly froze my hand off.

      I’m sure thereare some that are warmer, but it’s a great combination of warmth and dexterity for me (since they aren’t very thick).

  3. Torchwood says:

    See what happens when you don’t adapt to change? If I’m buying stuff, Sears does not enter into my list.

  4. MPD01605 says:

    The only reason I walk into a Sears is to access the mall.

    • rlkelley says:

      At the Mall here, Sears is always the best place to park. After Macy’s closed its store in the mall, the empty store, with no open entrances, had more cars parked by it than Sears did, 3 days before Christmas, no less.

    • AllanG54 says:

      Exactly

  5. TBGBoodler says:

    Any shopper could have told you this years ago. Kmarts are hideous, with boxes blocking aisles and surly help. Adding the appliances just made the store look sillier and even less inviting.

    My last experience with Sears? Just the other day. I had already visited another Sears a couple of weeks ago (here’s one problem: they don’t open until 10 am) to buy a new keypad for my garage door opener. The salesmen there were helpful and knowledgeable, but they don’t carry Craftsman keypads for any legacy products. I had to buy a generic keypad. When I got it home, I realized it was pretty unacceptable for many reasons, but I knew I could return it.

    So… on Monday I visited a different Sears to return the item. Asked the salesman in the hardware section if he knew anything about the keypads (they seemed to have a different selection). He told me “yes” and then proceeded to tell me that any of them would work with my system. Just reading the packages told me he was wrong (besides what I’d already learned from the guys at the other Sears earlier).

    While he processed the return (all this time he barely spoke and mostly grunted), I asked him if they sold 9-volt batteries. He gestured somewhere far away. By this time the return was processed and I was not going to trot back to the other end of the store to find the batteries and then go through the sale process again (why weren’t they at the checkout counter where they could be easily–and helpfully–upsold?). His grunt indicated he wasn’t in the mood to help me get any batteries.

    Will I return to Sears? No way. I was sorry I was there in the first place. I’ll find my keypad online and continue to buy my appliances at Lowes.

    • MrEvil says:

      If it’s one of those really really old GDO’s from sears, best of luck finding a remote that works directly with it. I resigned to just buying one of receivers you splice into the wall button. I also nabbed a compatible fingerprint reader to mount outside in case I didn’t happen to have my remote.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      Salesmen? At Sears? Wow. I went shopping for clothes there, was in a major hurry, and went looking for the department elf. Waited in line to talk to the cashier, and asked about help in the department. Apparently I was talking to it. I asked where their petite jeans were, she said “we don’t carry any.” Well, I guess that makes it easier…

  6. Speak says:

    I have no problems with the Sears local to me. I often go to the Sears Hardware store for tools and occasionally to the the main Sears department store. The 3 Kmarts in the area I only go in if I can’t find an item anywhere else. The physical store is the main problem, they are dirty feeling and kind of cramped. Items are never on the proper shelves where the prices are so you never know how much things cost. When you do find something that other stores have and find the price, the Kmart price is a lot higher than the local Targets or Walmarts. They give me no reason to shop there on any regular basis.

  7. bkdlays says:

    For me nothing goes smoothly at Sears.. Buy something that is in the back “warehouse” good luck getting it from there

    The horror stories about buying online and not getting the unit, or being charged for delivery twice, or missing pieces, or the items takin in for service and never coming back

    THen the tool warranty.. they now offer you some pieces to fix it yourself unless you get lucky and they give you someone elses repaired tools from the toolbox

    If any store is knows for BS, Hassle, and over complicating things then its Sears. The best thing they could do is shut it down or break it up into smaller divisions.

    Although i;ve never been in to one, around here they opened a franchise Sears.. somewhat like the Sears hardware format but with a little bit of everything. I think thats a great idea. People treat their own customers of their own business much better.

    Thats my .02

  8. madtube says:

    While the only reason I like Sears is for Craftsman Tools, their downfall is kinda mixed for me. Where I grew up, the Kmart was dilapidated and the Sears was the best store in the mall. When I ventured back to where I grew up and visited that mall, I found that both stores were in sad shape. The prices at Sears have been inflating for a couple of years to ridiculous levels. The only time I make a substantial purchase at either store is if I can score a deal. And that is only 1 time in the last 2 years.

  9. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I’m still amazed at how poorly Sears has adapted to the modern, internet-based world. It’s hard to imagine, but if they actually had some forethought about 20 years ago and transitioned their catalog sales to online commerce, they could be where Amazon is today. This is the same company that pioneered the concept of mail-order and was able to develop a cost effective way to ship house kits (I live in a Sears American Foursquare) and tens of thousands of consumer goods across the country but can’t even maintain a half way decent website today.

    Today, it’s almost like they are trying to drive away customers. My entire life, I’ve been a very loyal customer — clothes, shoes, tools, TVs, lawnmowers, appliances, glasses, tires, air conditions, etc. but I haven’t stepped foot in a store in over two years. Going there is such an aggravating experience that it just isn’t worth it to me any more.

    I just want a big box store that a) hires employees that know what they’re selling and b) doesn’t upsell. Until that happens, I’ll just shop downtown or online.

    • FuzzyWillow says:

      Their web site is atrocious. Their search engine tuning is way off.

      If you search for refrigerators for example, you get way too many results – then when you sort by price, you get items that are not refrigerators showing up first like “Refrigerator cleaning supplies.”, etc. So it is impossible to find an appliance in the price range you are looking for.

      I blank companies like Indecca that come in and tell retailers to “Throw as many results at the customer as you can.” You get so many irrelevant results it impossible to see what you are looking for.

    • alternety says:

      Regarding online opportunity. My wife and I have said this many times starting when the CEO of Sears made perhaps one of the top commercial blunders of all time by dissolving what Amazon was spending millions to build. They had the order and distribution system in place. They even had cheap (in-store pickup) shipping in thousands of locations.

      They had a brand known and trusted everywhere. Their catalog shopping (e.g., the pages needed to populate their online site) was in place. Everyone was already used to buying without going to a store. They had a parallel paper solution to use until internet use increased. They threw it all away.

      They would have needed to eventually adopt a philosophy more like what Amazon is doing with their marketplace relations to compete long term if Amazon had managed to survive in the face of a competent Sears; but it never came up.

      And they still have not figured out how to build and operate an internet sales site. Even when I want something they have, I give up because their web site sucks soooo bad. They have no clue how to build a user non-hostile interface that does not get in the way of what a customer wants to do. I bought $500 of shelves they had on sale. Two sets arrived. I was using MS Bing cash back. Never got the cash. It is not clear they understand that a link should go somewhere active. Or what to do with all those warm humming machines they have in those big rooms.

      But they still have some sort of local repair services. Sorta.

      And then there is their documentation. For many years I would buy a sears device even if something similar was available cheaper, because you always got an exploded view of all the parts and you could get a service manual.Try to buy the service manual for your washing machine. The owners documentation does not have the exploded view. To buy the service manual they require you to have a service call first. They have some sort of stupid “security” redirection that stops me every time I try to go to to their service site. I have to cut and paste the real url to get around it. If you can get one from another source, if you don’t have the initial model of a series, what you get does not particularly resemble what your machine looks like when you take the covers off. They put a “tech sheet” in the machine with supposedly updates documentation. It does, but not the parts I am interested in (like the controlling processor assembly, the door latch assembly with solenoid and contacts, the cables going between them, etc.). And their parts cost about twice as much as you can buy them for at other on-line stores. Stories on web repair sites leave you with the distinct impression that their service is expensive but competence is low. There is no longer incentive. They have screwed the pooch; and continue to do so not realizing it is dead.

    • Customer1st says:

      My recent (first and last) on-line experience with Sears was abominable. Not only was their website unfriendly and difficult to navigate, the cryptic and infrequent updates on my order were enough to cause me to call their on-line Customer Service number. That was a dead end too.

      I placed an order for a power tool. Shortly after, I received a confirmation email listing the items in the order – I thought that despite the difficulty of dealing with their website, I was able to successfully place my order. Then I received an update on another item. In the status message at the bottom of the email I noticed that the status of the power tool was “shipment canceled”. That’s when the most customer un-friendly experiences unfolded. I contacted the Customer Service reps for on-line ordering, but no one could tell me why the power tool I ordered had a status of “shipment canceled”. They couldn’t tell me if that meant the order itself was canceled, if it encountered a problem while shipping and a new one would be re-shipped, etc. The last conversation I had with one of the reps had them placing the blame on one of the frequently used ground shipping companies. Yet the Customer Service person took no responsibility for helping me re-order the same or a comparable item. To this day, I still don’t know if I will see the power tool on my doorstep.

      Since then I went to a reliable box store and bought what I needed.

      Perhaps the Sears Customer Service leaders should spend an afternoon ordering items from LLBean….then they would have a clue what it is like to have a customer friendly web site, exceptionally helpful and informed Customer Service reps and an overall experience that wins my loyalty time after time.

  10. deejmer says:

    Go figure. You deliver deplorable customer service and people dont frequent your establishment. Its called the game of Capitalism and you Sears, have lost. “It’s you, not me”

  11. tinmanx says:

    Sears need to overhaul their inventory system. I know someone who ordered a few iPod for in-store pickup because it saves on shipping, but when he went to pick it up, Sears only had 1 available for him.

  12. Griking says:

    “Good luck with that. What would Sears have to change or offer in order to earn your money and/or loyalty?”

    They need an identity. They’re not the discount department store any more, Walmart and Target already does that they do it better. So if their prices are higher than Walmart and Target then surely their quality must be much better right? Well, no. Sears/Kmart needs to ask themselves why should we shop with them over their competition.

    • mac-phisto says:

      great post. this is why the sears/kmart relationship has failed. they have yet to develop their brand in any meaningful way.

      so what is the difference? i wish i could tell you. instead, i’ll relate an anecdote that i think perfectly illustrates “the sears problem”.

      two of the spark modules on my hotpoint range died. hotpoint is a sears brand, so naturally i thought sears would be the place to find it. however, knowing that sears is rarely the place to get the best price, i figured i’d check home depot & lowe’s first. neither carried the spark module in store, but instead directed me to their online sites. i figured, oh well, i’ll just get it at sears. well, i get to sears & they don’t carry the spark module either – it’s on their site. the sales drone doesn’t even try to sell me the part in store for pickup or delivery. instead, he sends me on my way & tells me to go to sears.com. well, guess what? not only do a half dozen other online retailers beat their price, but finding the module on their sites wasn’t half as difficult as on sears. in the end, i bought the item at a competing retailer for 60% of the sears price, including free shipping.

      this is the type of shopping experience you’re relating to your customers, sears. aggravating & expensive. obstacles at every corner. now, i don’t even consider sears – even when what i need is a sears product.

  13. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    My latest Sears attempt at buying an appliance (replacement gas clothes dryer) was almost pure fail.

    Price was not close to Home Depot.
    Commission salesperson was pretty pushy, but no big deal.
    She quoted delivery, install, haul away and a permit fee(??) totaling over $225. HD quoted a total of $40, no permit fee.
    Delivery and install was over 3 weeks away

    After I left, I realized that the D & I she quoted was probably for a new unit, not a replacement install. But, before letting her loose on the sales floor, it seems that that should have been one of the few basic questions she should have been taught to ask, but Sears wanted warm bodies on the floor quickly.

    While Home Depot wasn’t perfect, (they asked if we preferred morning or afternoon, we chose morning and they told us the day before delivery it would be the afternoon, and it was), overall a better buying experience than Sears.

    But I will give props to Sears menswear. I wear Dockers Khakis to work and I can always count on my local store to have the 29″ inseam for short people like me. Many stores stop at 30″.

  14. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Sears + Kmart could have been a colossus, but they keep falling down. I understand their problems upgrading stores while competing with the likes of Walmart, but a little shine on the stores would go a long way.

    I love Sears products, Craftsman and Kenmore, and their return policies are great. Kmart has great clearance deals, too. Salespeople in appliances are generally knowlegable. But they also have high priced stores in malls that cut into their profits, and their prices on other merchandise is too high.

    Kmart stores tend to be located in “low Rent” areas – I am sure this puts off a lot of people. But I have not experienced any customer sevice “fails” in their stores, and they do have prices on par with the big boys on most products. Selection is largly dependent on the stores size.

    One thing they both could do better is their online shopping: They have a HUGE selection of things online, but everytime I get to the checkout, I abandon my cart and go elsewhere. Why? SHIPPING CHARGES. They NEED to have a “site to store” option with no shipping charge.

  15. wackydan says:

    They ignored the rise of big box strip malls to their own peril. Kmart was always strip malls, but as a brand Kmart was already pretty hosed. I’d love if a Sears opened a big box store near me. JCPenney is opening one very near my house finally… Much more convenient than going to an indoor mall.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I don’t think they ignored big box stores, they just abandoned the front a long time ago. My town used to have a downtown Sears (5 story building), which moved about 15 blocks away to a stand alone building with a big parking lot but still in town. Some time in the early 1980’s, they moved to “the mall” in the suburbs.

  16. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    The craftsman lawn product extended warrantees don’t actually cover the lawn tractor accessories. thats when they lost my business. the salesman lied about the coverage.

    OTOH I did return a used imac to them after 6 months of use.

  17. ctcatfur says:

    I’ve been fortunate in that my local Sears is well-maintained and the staff has been nice. I recently purchased a treadmill (delivery, set up and repair was important) and a Blue-Ray DVD from them (good price!). Anything to avoid Best Buy which would be our only other choice for a decent selection of electronics.

  18. PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

    Buy from Sears? Won’t happen again. Long story short, almost twenty years ago when I was a college student, I had gotten a Sears card and I used it to buy a gift for my mom. Then other charges started appearing on my card that I never made. When I contacted the number on the card to dispute them, they only mailed me copies of the signed receipts (and the signature definitely wasn’t mine) and they threatened sending it to collections. Thankfully, one of the receipts was on a date that I was out of state, and could prove it. I ended up fighting these charges for months, but when I said I was speaking to a lawyer, they finally dropped the charges and upgraded my card. I cut it up and closed the account.

    Between what had to be a corrupt employee (as I had never lost my card) and the hoops I had to jump through, they lost me as a customer forever.

    As far as shopping at K-Mart, I rarely do it. Mostly because the stores always look like a hurricane went through and it seems like they run on a skeleton crew. I can’t tell you how many times other customers have approached me for help, just because I was wearing a polo shirt and dress slacks, so they thought I worked there.

  19. Scuba Steve says:

    I don’t think there’s anything they can do. Anything I can get at sears I can get cheaply made at walmart, or just plain Cheaper if I want to go online.

    Anything I can get at K-mart.. would probably go straight to the trash can. They have a worse reputation for quality than Wally world.

  20. qwertgbnh says:

    This week my dad told me he wanted a toolbox for Christmas that was on sale this week at Sears. OK, so I go online and see that it’s available at my local store in Swansea, MA. I order the toolbox, pay for it, then later that night park in one of their designated “Wait here and you’ll have your item within 5mins” parking spots. I waited for 5 minutes before I realize that others are getting out of their car to pickup their merchandise, effectively cutting in front of me. No worries, so I go inside and present my receipt. I wait…and wait…and wait…and the kid finally comes out of the back and tells me he can’t find it and asks if I ordered it more than a day ago. No clue what that would have to do with anything but I say no and he decides to check again. Lo and behold he comes out 5mins later with the toolbox.

    Total time from the time I parked my car – 20mins.

    A whiteboard in the pick-up area was trumpeting a “99.xx% 5min goal achievement” yet everyone else waiting along with me was having issues getting their merchandise. This is why I avoid Sears as what should have been a simple pickup turned into a 20min frustrating experience.

    (If there’s good news out of all this, at least the toolbox is really nice!)

  21. macruadhi says:

    The Kmart near me is much the same as it was when it opened as a Super Kmart, except now it’s not so “Super”. They’ve partitioned off the grocery side, and for the last several years, the parking lot is so empty, I’m surprised it’s even still open.

  22. johnrhoward says:

    The last few times I’ve been in KMart, I feel like the employees outnumber the customers. I don’t even know how they stay open. Also, it feels like you’ve gone back in time the way the store is laid out. I know the layout has changed since I was a kid, but somehow it doesn’t feel like it has.

  23. FuzzyWillow says:

    It depends on the community. When I lived in FL,. (Strip mall subdivision world.) Sears was that store at the mall the I boycotted because of their auto repair shenanigans in 1992

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3092/is_n18_v31/ai_12736011/

    Now in this New England town I live in, Sears is the local go-to place for technology, appliances, etc. A third of their store is dedicated to Craftsman stuff.

    Perhaps its more a cultural thing.

  24. mbd says:

    In 1985, Sears sold me a dish washer that the salesman represented as being in stock. The delivery day came and went with no dish washer. It seemed it really was not in stock. I got my money back, and have not bought anything at Sears since. There are plenty of stores that want my business, I see no reason to patronize stores that do not.

    As to what would make me shop in Sears again? When they cut me a check for that 1985 day’s lost pay.

  25. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    The reasons I bought my new refrigerator at Lowe’s instead of Sears were that the Sears model didn’t have a standard ice maker, Sears didn’t offer free delivery to my home, and Sears wanted to charge extra to haul off my old refrigerator. I could deal with any one of the above, but three nickel-and-dime items seem excessive. I found a similar fridge at Lowe’s with a standard ice maker, and they offered free delivery and haul-off. Win!

  26. keith4298 says:

    The disconnect between sears.com and the sears store is as wide as the grand canyon! It makes shopping abysmal.

    Just the other week, I bought a snowblower and it went on sale the next day. Rather than just refund $40, they made me trek in with a 100 lb snowblower, just to repurchase it after I dropped it off. I literally left with the same box I shlepped in!

    Oh, they also F’d up my fridge last year (black Friday 2009) and brought it damaged. Couldn’t get a someone from delivery to talk to the store before delivering a washer and dryer…..the only reason I use them is that I had a ton of credit to go through.

  27. runchadrun says:

    10 years ago I bought a washer and dryer at Lowes because they had next-day delivery. It was going to take Sears 2-3 weeks to deliver in-stock Kenmores. A couple years later I was looking at a HDTV and went to Sears because they had some promotion. We picked a TV but it was out of stock. The salescritter said that Sony had just started manufacturing it and no retailers had it. Frustrated, we went across the street to Good Guys (RIP). We bought the exact same TV and had it delivered that afternoon–on Super Bowl Sunday it turns out; we aren’t football fans.

    In 2008 I had to replace the washer and went to Sears on the day after Black Friday. I had the washer the next day. Two days ago I ordered a new dryer at sears.com and it will be delivered tomorrow (Christmas Eve). This is far better service than they provided in the past and I can only think it was because they were losing sales to Lowe’s and other places that offered next-day delivery.

    That being said, I was at a Sears B&M store yesterday. Every time I go there they have rearranged the store. For some reason appliances are now next to men’s underwear. There were very few employees (I was there early in the day) and I only bought one thing because I couldn’t find anything else there I wanted. I had a coupon for $10 off $20 worth of apparel but couldn’t find $20 worth of apparel I wanted.

    As for Kmart, my local one closed 2 years ago in order to build condos on the site. The empty store is still sitting there because of the real estate bust. But when I shopped there it was an unorganized, dark, messy, dirty place. I don’t think they realized that within a one-mile radius there was a major mall (with the aforementioned Sears), Target, Costco, Mervyn’s (RIP), and a couple miles away a Walmart and Best Buy. All of these places had a far better shopping experience than Kmart. The only thing Kmart had going for it were prices and Martha Stewart stuff (her Christmas decorations are the best).

    For Sears they need to stick to what they do best: appliances and hardware. I don’t have any suggestions as to what they should do with the other 2/3 of the store. Kmart needs to Targetify or Walmartify so people have a reason to come into their stores and stay there long enough to spend a lot of money,

    • Outrun1986 says:

      It sounds like they had to step up their game in your area due to a ton of competition or else they would lose business to the guy next door. Its not like that here, but Sears really isn’t a bad store other than the ugly clothing. They do have a lot of tools at my closest location. Its Kmart that sucks here.

  28. LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

    Kmart had a sale on PJs this week, so I decided that for the first time in oh, forever, I’d go check it out. What a waste of time.

    My in-store experience was horrid – clothes hanging haphazardly on racks that didn’t match up with the sales signage above it, making it darn near impossible to find items that corresponded to their advertised sale, crowded, cluttered aisles, debris (papers, a few empty cardboard boxes) strewn randomly across the floor…the whole store seemed to be in a state of decay.

    Kmart and Sears offer some great loss-leaders, which is enough to tempt me into thinking about shopping there. But then I remember what a hassle and how unpleasant it is, and that generally cures me of the impulse. I’ll even shop Wally World over Kmart and Sears these days, which is sayin’ something.

  29. Andyb2260 says:

    The last time I bought anything at Sears, it was through their website and that was four or five years ago. Kmart hasn’t been on my radar for a few years now. The last time I was in a Kmart it looked and felt like I was shopping at a Goodwill. So many aisle displays that it was difficult maneuvering a cart down the aisles.
    Just an over all bad experience. Target is still my first choice and if I had to I’d even go to Wal-Mart before I would walk into a Kmart.

  30. valkyrievf2x says:

    The Sears around here (we had 2) were not too bad. One is located i na mall, and as such, it is well taken care of. My wife likes to hit it when there are sales and such. The other was a converted super Kmart. Had that big empty warehouse feel to it. Closed down after being flooded.

    Kmart, on the other hand… All the ones I have been too are so crappy they make Walmart look upscale. Maybe the depression and stink of failure hang in the air, but all the ones I have been to are rather depressing to be in. Store always looks like a huge mess, and items are never priced. And of course, the little price scanning units are broken. Prices are either on the same level as Walmart or higher, so no real reason to go. Well, except their kids/toddler clothes (the Sesame street stuff–my kids loved it!!).

    Way I see it, they both suck in a financial sense, but at least the Sears part seems to be trying harder.

  31. GMFish says:

    poor service

    Underfrickenstatement of the year. Maybe the decade.

  32. JonStewartMill says:

    Sears seems to do best in the hardware arena. Most backyard mechanics I know swear by Craftsman tools, and Kenmore is a well-regarded brand for home appliances. I think they should ditch everything else and just become ‘Sears Hardware’.

  33. JohnJ says:

    Our local Kmart was a real dump. I guess it’s closed now. It also had out-of-stock inventory problems.

    My parents have had good luck buying major appliances at Sears, but I wouldn’t even think of buying anything else there.

  34. scientific progress goes boink says:

    The only thing that would get me to step inside the Kmart in my home town would be a total store makeover. The roof leaks, the paint is peeling, the floors and walls are dirty, the bathroom smells like the pits of hell (you can smell it from like 20 ft away) and junkies shoot up in there, stuff is all over the place and it really feels like nobody works there. The only associates I ever seem to see are the cashiers.

    I used to go to that Kmart all the time as a kid because it was right down the street. It used to be really nice especially after it got turned into a Big K. It doesn’t look like it’s been touched since then…

  35. sparc says:

    i shop sears.com once or twice a year and do in-store pickup. Never had any real problems. Usually it’s for small items with little value.

    Sears/Kmart rarely have any competitive deals to waste time making the trek to go to the store. Same reason i don’t go to Target much either though.

    The stores around here are clean and maintained ok. Friendly staff too.

    The only reasons i go to Sears stores is for the Craftsman Hand Tool warranty which is still going strong. Hand tool quality is still pretty good. I rarely buy new stuff though as it’s hard to get great deals on craftsman products.

    I’m mostly an online shopper though so Target, Walmart, and Sears/Kmart are all generally off the radar. I usually hit Walmart for little stuff that i have to buy right away since it’s so close to me.

  36. nodaybuttoday says:

    Their website sucks. It shows products as available or on sale, then when you click on the item it says it’s not available to purchase online in your area or/and the price is different. It’s so poorly programmed and designed…

    • sparc says:

      the worst thing the sears.com website did was add in listings from other stores that are not affiliated with sears.

      It’s made the search much more of a hassle as you have to add extra steps of limiting the sellers.

  37. hmburgers says:

    Sears should re-tool itself as a tools/automotive/appliance type store… basically keep the “basement” of every Sears I’ve ever been in, get rid of the rest.

    Honestly, does anyone still buy clothes, toys, etc from a Sears? I’d even argue that maybe the “appliances” should be dropped as every time I’ve gone in there I’ve been disappointed in their prices–the only ace in the hole they have is that their Kenmore brand USED to be good… if they could revive that brand as ultra reliable and affordable I think they’d get a fair number of loyal customers back–and I don’t mean re-branding $1500 front load Whirlpools, I mean produce $300-500 appliances that actually last a while and create some “stepping stones” like car manufacturers have done… entry models to win the 20 somethings, followed by fancy ones for the 30/40s, followed by reliable and easy to use for the 50+ crowds. Make them want to return every 10 years to buy a $500 appliance from you.

    Same w/ their other brands… Craftsman, Diehard, etc… all great brands that have become lost as they simply started re-branding other products. Make the damn things well, don’t just claim you do… and start freaking advertising with something more direct then the idiotic “blue” commercials you’ve had lately.

    KMart is a gonner… just forget it… there is no way that K-Mart can compete with Wal-Mart unless they intend to lose money for about 3-5 years while they out-do Wal-Mart at it’s lower prices shtick.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      The only people I know buying clothes from Sears are people with kids since they have the KidVantage guarantee but I don’t know how you would actually get them to honor that. Regardless the children’s clothing department at Sears at least here is very popular. They also have the Land’s End brand for kids and adults.. Their ace in the hole here is the kids clothing though, they should focus on that and Land’s End, and basically get rid of all the other clothing, because as I said before, a lot of it is very ugly. They also have plus-size children’s clothing, when a lot of stores don’t. Kids need bigger clothing these days, and most retail stores don’t carry plus size children’s clothing and Sears is one of the few that do so lots of parents with larger kids go there to buy clothing for their kids, since their kids are too small for adult clothing but too big for regular kids clothing. I would suggest expanding the children’s clothing and Land’s End departments and slowly phasing out the other clothing. Brand it as a lower cost specialty children’s clothing retailer. The Land’s end stuff is actually really nice.

  38. Slave For Turtles says:

    When you’re used to Target, KMart is more than a step down. “Dankness and despair”? Oh yes. What can they do to improve it? CLEAN THE FLOORS. It’s so easy, but just have clean floors. Make the merchandise neat and orderly. And lastly, get the employees to wear a uniform, not merely a smock. Yeah, I occasionally look at their sales papers, but I won’t be going there. Shopping has got to feel good, not like you’ve got to clutch your wallet and be on the lookout for muggers or disease.

    As for Sears, I went there looking for snow blower shear pins. I knew what the manual for my Craftsman snow blower said, and that’s why I was there. The first person didn’t know what I meant by shear pins. I picked up a bag of a different size of pin — “look –it says SHEAR PINS. No, they’re not for my model.” He went to get someone else. That person was just as clueless, and I was getting annoyed. I asked for a manager, someone with knowledge of the inventory. He went back to talk to the first guy, and they glowered at me from afar (really?!). Then they sent out a woman, thought she was not a manager. She told me (another woman) that she had no idea why she had to talk to me. I mean, geez. We both knew we were shoved together because of our gender. I felt very undervalued as a customer. I ended up going home to get one of my old shear pins, bringing it in and comparing bags of parts. Turns out they had changed the part number, and I was able to buy a bag, but wouldn’t a check on a computer have told them that?

    Also, if you ever need to order parts for their products via phone or internet, be prepared for icky up-sell and horrible prices and outrageous shipping. Some $30 for a part for my washer plus shipping? I got 2 sets of those parts with shipping for half elsewhere (Whirlpool guts are Whirlpool guts, no matter what the label says).

    Overall – total lack of respect for the customer. I don’t ever want to buy another Kenmore or Craftsman ever again.

    However, their zombie gift guide? Total win.

    • LadyTL says:

      Neither Kmart or Walmart have a uniform. It’s just a dress code that is poorly chosen since khakis show up every speck of dirt that gets on them.

  39. menty666 says:

    Here’s an example from just last weekend….

    Sears was closer than my local Home Depot, so I ran in to get a bottle of oil for my snow thrower. It was busy, but it’s a week before Christmas, so I waited in line for 10 minutes before getting to the front. At that point their register broke. Was the response, “I’m sorry”? Was it, “Here, let me slip you ahead in this line here”? No. It was, “You’ll have to wait in one of those lines over here, this is broken”. All of those lines at this point were 5 deep and I had my 2 kids in tow.

    My response was, “That’s ok, I’ll just go to Home Depot”.

    No, it wouldn’t be fair to the other folks waiting in the other lines to slip me ahead, but at least an apology would have been nice at the bare minimum.

  40. kiminminn says:

    “.. the intangible feeling of dankness and despair in most Kmart and Sears stores.”

    The local Kmart is dirty, they seem to place their stock in the aisles, the price displays never match the item sitting on the shelf, the faded tattered red vests have to go, and they need to hire people with some brains. We have a Target across the street and while I am not a Target fan the store is always clean, the items are priced accurately, the bathrooms are clean, the people working there aren’t idiots.

  41. Swifty says:

    The Sears in my town are actually pretty nice. As for Kmart… UPDATE YOUR FRAKKING STORES. Seriously – can anyone name a new Kmart that has been built in the past 10 years?

    Some of the locations are in crappy former strip malls, but a lot of them are on very valuable in-town real estate. If Kmart would bother investing a little money in their infrastructure, I really think people would be much more inclined to patronize it.

    Really – does anyone know of a new Kmart built within the past 15 years? Or a remdel that was more than just an exterior paint job?

  42. lilspooky says:

    I wont ever go to kmart or sears! when i think of stores that just need die and go away, i think kmart and sears.

  43. Dave Farquhar says:

    The Kmart near me could be a case study. It’s always busy. And a few years ago, when Kmart was closing stores, they actually posted signs saying don’t worry, this is the busiest store in the area, it won’t be closing.

    The main thing that sets it apart from other Kmart stores is that it’s nice. They updated it a few years ago. Going there doesn’t feel significantly different from going to the new Target store a couple of miles away. And due to the way the store sits relative to the roads that lead to it, it’s much easier to get in and out of.

    That last thing is largely a matter of luck, I know. Prime spots with easy access from two major roads are usually taken. And renovations are expensive, but if they can clean up the shelves so they look better than the nearby Goodwill and maybe slap a coat of paint on the walls, it’ll help. That’s the problem with the Kmart stores I’ve been in that are struggling. They’re run-down and disorganized like a thrift store. Fixing that can’t be terribly expensive, and if people can find what they’re looking for, the inventory is more likely to sell.

  44. david.c says:

    Change their Anti-Consumer policies and I might *think* of going back.

    For instance, I needed a new A/C unit and called to make an sales appointment and a service appointment, both were made and no mention of a “service visit fee” was made. The service person did not inform me of the fee before he started the inspection and admitted he forgot afterwards.

    The service guy didn’t even bother to write up an estimate as the unit was basically toast, and then hits me with a fee. Rather then argue with him on my property, or call the cops to get him to leave, I payed by CC and noted on the receipt about not being quoted a price for the service visit.

    Still, all of that is sorta acceptable.

    When I called the sears C/S (what a joke) I was told by all and sundry they had a policy about not reversing that charge. Even after I explained the situation, pointed out where they failed, including the service man not quoting a fee upon arrival, they still forced me to do a charge back. Even when I told them I was going to charge back, they would not reverse the charges.

    Really? Sears forcing a customer to do a charge back is the ultimate in “anti-consumer” practices. The fact that some policy or metrics in some rent-a-call-center forced me to do that extra work lost them a customer for life.

  45. Beeker26 says:

    Honestly I always liked K-Mart better than Wal-Mart, but the one here closed a decade ago. Now the nearest one is almost an hour away, with Wal-Mart being 5 mins.

  46. Outrun1986 says:

    Kmart’s are much dirtier than Sears, they really do look like a time capsule from the 1970’s or 1980’s.

    The problems with the stores:

    In store experience is #1. Let’s start by having more than ONE cashier open at all times. The cashier is the most important part of the experience for most consumers and no one has time to wait in a line anymore. Make it fast and easy and people just might shop at your store.

    Accurate ad, this week men’s long sleeve shirts were advertised for $10, when I went to the store, I did not find any of these shirts in any department and I looked all over the place. Since I was there on Sunday there is no way those shirts could have sold out before mid morning. Last time I checked it was illegal to advertise for something that the store doesn’t even carry.

    Merchandise is everywhere in Kmart right now, so much so that I can barely walk down the aisles. The merchandise also seems to be scattered with no rhyme or reason to it and no organization whatsoever.

    The shop your way rewards website, I haven’t been able to log in for well over an entire month and there is no way to get service and I am not sitting on hold on the phone for an hour to get an account that I did nothing to, fixed.

    Coupons, if you issue coupons in the sunday ad, make sure they actually work. We went in to buy something and the coupon did not work, which then required approval from a supervisor to override and the order had to be checked about 3 times to make sure we weren’t trying to scam the system. This is too much hassle to use a coupon that was issued in Kmart’s own Sunday ad.

    Stale food, please remove expired food from shelves. This is a plague that has been plaguing the Kmart’s here for god knows how long. There is no excuse for this one. I have complained about this to Kmart’s customer service hotline yet it still continues to happen.

    Clean up the toy department. It is messy and disgusting, and there are tons of old outdated toys from god knows when there, and many things that have had parts stolen or tags removed. Target and Walmart can keep a clean Toy Dept. so why can’t Kmart. I have never seen such a mess in any store in my entire life.

    Um fix the appliance department, the whole thing just needs an overhaul (and so does the whole store), since that is where most of the complaints to this site come from.

    I don’t really have any complaints about Sears, other than that most of the time, the clothes are pretty ugly but this is a minor complaint. They could also start by labeling the departments as currently all the women’s clothing is mashed together and I have to thumb the racks to figure out which is plus sized, misses, juniors and petites. If I can’t find my size or it takes too long to find something in my size, I am leaving without buying anything.

    The plus size clothes in these stores are either designed for someone who is 15 or someone who is 60, and the regular clothing to some extent is geared towards these 2 age groups. Its either juniors clothing or elastic waist pants and ugly holiday sweaters and sweatshirts. This leaves out pretty much everyone inbetween. It would also be nice to see something designed for a woman who is taller and slightly larger than regular sizes instead of clothing that was obviously designed for a woman who is 5’2 and 250lbs.

  47. EBone says:

    Sears stores are typically located in malls. Target and Walmart stores are located in the suburbs. You can’t compete with Target & Walmart when they offer the convenience of being close to home – who is going to drive the extra distance to the mall and hassle with parking to shop at Sears?

    Here are Sears’ two options if they want to remain viable: 1) Get out of the malls and compete with Target and Walmart in the suburbs; or 2) Rebrand themselves as a higher end experience to the big boxes to pull people to the mall – better merchandise, better customer service, and nicer stores.

  48. FerretGirl says:

    Kmart is the only place online I’ve been able to find satin panties at anything approaching reasonable rates. Their reviews for those panties, last time I bought some, were all men talking about how good the panties feel when men wear them and comparing the room for their packages in the “standard women’s cut” versus the “women’s bikini cut”.

    The brick and mortar stores are always dingy and hard to navigate. I feel like they look cheap and smell funky. The last time I bought any of their clothing (when I was a teenager) it would fall apart or warp or fade horribly in only a few washings. I bought my first pair of high heels there and a heel fell off within the month.

    • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

      Wait…what?

      I read that first paragraph about three times to make sure I read it right.

  49. captainfrizo says:

    I go to Sears maybe once a year when I’m bored out of my mind and find myself randomly wondering the mall. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything there though.

    The last time I was in K-Mart was six years ago. I had purchased some movies and computer games on clearance and upon leaving the store the security alarms went off since they didn’t deactivate all the tags. I stood at the door for over a minute and none of the ten or so employees approached me. I swiped my bag through the sensors again, setting off the alarms and again, nothing.

    On the third and final attempt a female manager left the customer service booth about 15 feet away and headed my way. Instead of stopping me she just walked by on her journey to the restroom. I then left the store (setting off the alarms for a fourth time). I could have put all sorts of things in my two bags without paying and not a single soul there would have cared. It’s sorta sad.

  50. scoobydoo says:

    What would make me shop at Sears? A going out of business sale would be a good start.

    I’d feel horrible for all the people that would be out of work, but to be honest, it isn’t like they collectively tried hard to make the store a better experience for their customers.

  51. Steve H. says:

    The trouble with Sears & K-mart is due to a couple of problems:
    First is a lack of focus due to market trends. The dichotomy of hardware and clothing/home goods trends towards lack of selection in both areas. People these days prefer to go to more specialized stores for their needs. My wife prefers Kohl’s and Macy’s for clothing and bedding shopping. I prefer going to Home Depot/Lowe’s for general hardware shopping and Auto Zone/Advanced auto parts for automotive hardware.

    More importantly, at least within the city of Pittsburgh, Sears and K-mart have failed to expand or move into the different popular shopping locations that have grown in the last several years. Over 10 years ago, the best general shopping areas for me in the Pittsburgh area were Edgewood and Monroeville (we’ll ignore the smaller mom & pop type stores that people ought to go to, but I digress). Now, the places I tend to go to are the Waterfront and East Liberty. Between the two of them, I can go to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s etc, as well as a wonderful wide variety of restaurants. If K-mart or Sears were in either of these locations, they might see quite a lot of business. But they’re just not there. I have to go OUT of my way to go to either of these stores, and for what they carry, it’s simply not worth it. In my opinion, this is clearly a failure at the executive level.

  52. quagmire0 says:

    Buh bye.

  53. EverCynicalTHX says:

    On a positive note, it’s a good place to shop if you dislike crowds and people.

  54. KyBash says:

    The K-Mart here is clean and airy. I’d love to shop there, but 1) they rarely stock the items in their sales flyers, 2) their prices are out of line with the quality of their merchandise.

    Sears? Never again! From not honoring their warranties to demanding my social security number for a cash purchase, they long ago buried any hope that I’ll ever buy from them again.

  55. stottpie says:

    sears still has the best tools. unbeatable quality and warranty

  56. scoosdad says:

    I went into the local Sears {at the mall in Auburn, Massachusetts, no redaction here} last fall to buy another can of their paint that the previous owner of my house had used practically everywhere. Every few years I picked up a fresh can to have on hand for touchups, repairs, etc.

    Walk in, nobody in the paint department. Wander over into hardware, ask at the register. Register guy points to another guy standing nearby doing nothing, and tells me, “he’s the paint guy, but you’ll have to wait about five minutes because he’s on his break.” Whaaaa? And Paint Guy proceeds to hang out at the register and chat with the cashier, completely ignoring me, with nobody making any move on my behalf. I walked out, went home and made a color sample of the remaining bit of Sears paint I had on a hunk of drywall, and took it to Home Depot, where they color matched it perfectly and sold me a quart.

    Thanks for the help, Sears! Your lazy employees are your doom.

  57. Traveller says:

    “The 2005 merger was supposed to bring together the best parts of two venerable but faltering American brands. Five years later, the recession has affected business at both Sears and Kmart badly enough that executives are starting to notice that something is wrong.”

    Finally? The merger itself was a bad idea, and having a guy who doesn’t know anything about retail as chairman of the board was even worse.

  58. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    “…intangible feeling of dankness and despair in most Kmart and Sears stores.”

    Call GHOSTBUSTERS. We’re ready to believe you.

  59. kityglitr says:

    Here’s why I don’t shop at Sears. Hubby and I are in the market for a 50 inch plasma HDTV. We heard about the Panasonic lawsuit and decided a Samsung was probably the best bang for our buck. So we headed down to Sears (in our very small town) to just check out the quality of pictures ourselves. We were interested in seeing the differences in quality between manufacturers and between LCD vs. Plasma. Turns out this Sears has one of the models we’ve been casing in stock and on sale for $899, which was a great price. My husband starts chatting with a salesman, and as soon as the guy realizes that we are well informed customers who have done TONS of research he shrugs and pretty much just walks away!!! We continue to look around, just wanting to see picture quality before we go home and order via internet. We notice that NONE of the tV’s on the sale floor have any sort of direct HD feed, just a loop of ugly Sears ads and some tv show and movie clips as filler. We ask a different salesman if there’s any way to hook up a Blu-Ray player or show us a direct HD feed. The poor guy had no clue. He admits that the one floor model plasma tv that is actually hooked up to a Blu-Ray is broken, and no one can get it to work. He admits that the only signal they are allowed to show on the tv’s is just a digital feed from corporate. We tell him again, if he could find a working Blu-Ray player and hook it up to one of the tv’s we’d probably walk out with the $899 Samsung. He states that he cannot help us. We leave and go home very unsatisfied, and very certain that we will NEVER buy anything from Sears. Not only did our preparedness and knowledge of the product outright scare the salesman away from us, but when we asked for a simple and honest look at the quality of the tv picture, we were told they couldn’t help us.
    They obviously aren’t in business to sell things.

  60. knightracer says:

    Targets are actually moving into malls now.

  61. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I won’t shop there simply b/c of all of the horror stories I keep hearing about how they aren’t shipping out items that people have paid for, etc… No way am I frequenting a store that operates that way.

  62. CalicoGal says:

    We just bought a new refrigerator to replace one that we bought at Sears in 2001.
    No way in hell I was going to get it at Sears— I read The Consumerist, after all!!

    We went to HHGregg.
    AWESOME! Fantastic salesman, great delivery, A+++. Will buy again.

  63. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Our KMart store is clean, bright, and well organized, but their items cost more than WalMart a few hundred yards away. I only go there a few times a year to look through the clothing clearance items. Even the detergents, etc., unless it’s a true loss leader, are more expensive on sale than normal prices at our local chain grocery store in the same strip mall.

    As for Sears, I love getting the gift cards for my Dad as he loves Craftsman tools, and I’d buy appliances or Craftsman items, but I never think of them for anything else.

  64. Jecker says:

    My local Sears is actually a pretty great store. Since I bought my home a year ago I’ve bought many Craftsman tools there, including a mower. Never had trouble with buying online and picking up in-store, it’s always been in stock. I bought my truck tires there years ago and they’ve serviced them and my vehicle many times since, always promptly. There are always too many employees asking if I need help, but I’d rather have that then no one at all. The prices aren’t always great, but that’s why you shop around first.

    KMart on the other hand, talk about depressing. I hate going in that store. The only reason I’ve gone there recently is that, surprisingly, they have a pretty nice garden center, compared to the Lowe’s and Home Depot in my area.

  65. whysteriastar says:

    I bought shoes from Sear’s website online because they were having a killer sale…but when they arrived, they had an anti-theft tag on them. I went to one local Sears to have the stupid thing removed and they didn’t have the right tag type at that store so I had to drive across town to another store to have them taken off. After that, I am done with anything related to Sears.

  66. cybrczch says:

    Hearing all the sad tales of K-marts out there, I’m almost glad that they closed both stores in my town during their restructuring a couple years ago.
    Sears is still in the mall here, the last thing I bought there was a Vizio TV set 3 years ago, I had been looking around for one to replace my bedroom TV set, and it just happened to be on sale when I went there. The sales associate was nice and friendly until he asked if I wanted to buy the protection plan, when I said no, the look on his face grew so cold it would have frozen alcohol.

  67. joe80x86 says:

    Well after reading alot of the comments I don’t feel so bad now. Our local Sears Essentials (a renamed K-Mart) which is in a high end area is like going back in time to my child hood, I swear the inside of the store hasn’t been updated since it opened (at least 15 years ago) and yes it really shows. I really thought Sears would upgrade it when they renamed it but no they didn’t.

    The closest K-Mark is on the corner of two major roads but hasn’t had a major re-model in atleast 20 years (no I am not joking). The roof leaks and I doubt any ceiling tiles are ever replaced unless they fall down. The lay-a-way is a wooden enclosure built with 2x4s and wall paneling. And the toy dept was moved into the old garden center after the 2004 hurricanes, and in a classy sort of way they had half windows up by the ceiling which they literally boarded up on the outside with plywood. The plywood on the outside has since been painted but you can still see it clearly on the inside along with the sun which comes through the windows around the edges of the boards. Yeah and the floor could use some updating or even a good cleaning.

  68. gman863 says:

    I see several red flags that mirror the deaths of other major retailers including Montgomery Ward and A&P:

    * Few (if any) new store openings over the past several years; existing stores are usually in less than desirable, lower-income areas.

    * Reducing (Sears) or eliminating (K-Mart) stores in many cities or regions.

    * Aging stores, fixtures and parking lots suffering from poor maintainence.

    * Allowing other retailers to carry a flagship store brand. Ace Hardware now sells Craftsman Tools; A&P started wholesaling its “Eight O’Clock” brand coffee to competing supermarkets during its implosion in the 1980s.

    My predictions:

    * Sears’ few remaining “The Great Indoors” locations will shutter within the next year.

    * The “Kenmore” name will be sold to an appliance manufacturer (likely Whirlpool) and start showing up in Lowe’s or Home Depot.

    * K-Mart will cease to exist as a storefront name within 5 years; the few profitable locations left will get a low-grade remodeling and be re-branded under the “Sears Essentials” banner.

    * Within 10 years, all the big-box and mall stores will be history. If the Sears name lives on at all it will be through their franchised “Sears Hardware” locations located mainly in smaller towns.

  69. dg says:

    Sears was one of the oldest, most well-known, best, and trusted brands in America. Then they cut out the “Big Book” catalog, and started their decline. Continue along with selling reused or dead “DieHard” car batteries, not performing work on cars that they said they had, blowing off delivery appointments, not taking back Craftsman tools because of ANY reason, oh, and then merging with that ultimate shit hole of schlock – KMart.

    Yep, add it all up and you have a total shithole that no one wants to go into. Screw Sears – I tell everyone I know to avoid that damn place like the plague. You can get 100% less hassle going to Home Depot, and they can be fairly snarky at times. Or just, you know- order online and have it shipped in. Or go to a local shop and forget Sears. Or if you’re looking for appliances, go to ABT. Clothes: Anywhere else.

    The sooner these no-talent ass clowns go out of business, the better. Old man Sears and old man Roebuck must be turning over in their graves.

  70. mcgyver210 says:

    I have always received Craftsman Tools since I was a Pre-Teen but this year I didn’t want anything from Sears for a number of reasons. Below are just a few.

    1. Customer Service Non Existent.
    2. Craftsman is no longer a USA Product with a 100% backed up Forever Warranty. Just look allot is Made in China now which is JUNK.
    3. Selection is now Sub-Par IMO.
    4. Used to they would discontinue a few specialty tools every so often but to discontinue tape measures & change the warranty was last draw for me.
    5. Did I say allot of Craftsman is made in China now? I couldn’t believe it but it is true they want us to pay top dollar for China Junk.

  71. EricS says:

    Several comments above mentioned Craftsman tools as one of the few reasons to go to Sears. I just bought a Craftsman tool yesterday at my local Ace Hardware! So much for that valuable customer draw.

    I do go to Sears occasionally. I just bought a 52 in. LED LCD TV from them. I researched online first — their website’s product comparison is pretty good — and found what I wanted in the newest model at the same price that everyone else was charging for one model older. Walked into the store, bought it in person (even though it wasn’t on the floor), and walked out with it an hour after deciding to go there. Even package pickup was efficient and had good loading help. It was great. I was surprised and pleased. Of course, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Sears was consistently good,

    Not that I’d buy anything textile there. Their buyers need a sense of style.

    Kmart is another story. Dirty floors, dirty staff, shelves/racks in disarray, and always at least a decade out of date. You can use the latter to your advantage: I needed a VCR tape a couple months ago, and Kmart was the only one around that not only had them, but had a selection, for cheap. I otherwise go there in an emergency only because it’s a quick stop 1/3 mile from my house. But it’s a mess: For any serious shopping, it’s worth another 20-30 minute round trip to shop Target or Meijer. Even Walmart, which I hate and won’t enter, is way better than Kmart.

  72. grosbach says:

    I’m in a situation right now and am pulling my hair out. Ordered three wrench sets in November for Christmas gifts, only one came in the package. Have contacted them eight times now about it. I keep answering the same questions about the condition of the package-was it damaged, etc. No, No, No, No. The packer failed to read the number and put only one in the box. Every time I call, I get someone new who doesn’t have a clue. My e-mails are either ignored or answered from a computer that says “We are here for you.”
    I’d really like to know what to do about this. Packing slip says three were sent, the credit card bill is waiting to be paid.

  73. Kuri says:

    Last Sears I saw is, well, in a near abandoned mall.

  74. thistle172 says:

    I would think that nobody in their right mind expects to speak to genuinely knowledgeable sales staff at ANY retail location. I mean, WHEN in your memory has that EVER happened? I find exactly what I expect to find at retail: clueless drones making sure that people don’t walk out with the stuff. I have NEVER expected to speak to anyone who knows their ass from a hole in the ceiling at retail, and I never do.

    No, the ONE thing that could be solved at Kmart which would make it more likely for me to shop there in the future is this: HAVE MORE THAN *ONE* CHECKOUT LINE OPEN.

    That’s ALL I want anymore: the ability to get the hell out of KMart in a reasonably timely fashion once I’m done with the already dull and boring shopping.

  75. profmonster says:

    I’ve always been happy with Sears appliance purchases. But, Sears has lost my business due to a bad experience at my local Sears automotive center. I called from work, said I needed them to check a tire (it was leaking), I was leaving tomorrow for a long drive, could they do it? They said sure, bring the car in. I went after work, got there about 5:30, left after 8:00, with the tire unrepaired. The staff kept putting me off, saying that there had been an accident on the repair floor, they were short-staffed, it would be done in half an hour (they said this over the entire 3 hours that I was there). It became obvious to me that they were prioritizing all of the bigger jobs. I finally couldn’t wait any longer. It was clear they weren’t going to take me before they closed at 9:00.

    I wrote to the sears.com forum, got a form response from a forum moderator: “I’ll write a message to the manager of that Sears auto shop, and they will be in touch with you.” Of course, they did not get in touch with me, and anyway, I had had my car repaired somewhere else by then.

  76. SearsCares says:

    To all our valued Sears customers.

    My name is Scott and I’m part of the Sears Social Media Support Team within corporate. Please excuse my blanket post here, but due to the magnitude of response from this comment & forum on this site, I wanted to reach as many of you as possible. I’m terribly sorry for the frustration, trouble & inconvenience each of you has encountered. It is true we do face many operational hurdles in each of our avenues of business (Store, online, auto centers & home services), but customer service should not be compromised or sacrificed. We’d like to look into your issues and offer assistance. Please email us at smsupport@searshc.com for help. We do look forward to hopefully hearing from you.

    Thank you,

    Scott J.
    Sears Social Media Support

  77. judyz says:

    Their customer base is disappearing because of age. The people who are left who are loyal to Sears like them based on the way they were in the 70’s and 80’s. These days their stores are tired, prices too high and warranties useless. In the old days they stood behind everything they sold and their service department was wonderful. Not anymore.

    Sears will sell you a warranty on a 15 year old Dishwasher even if they know darn well that they can’t get the parts for it if it breaks. For me the warranty experience was the killer. I have a Kenmore vacuum that has been problematic. They just kept wasting my time sending it back and forth without fixing it. Finally a woman at Sears told me that the Powerhead Mini was useless in my household because I have long hair and pets. She then proceeded to pull out a screwdriver and demonstrate to me how I could take it apart and try to fix it myself next week when it died (which of course would void my warranty). She even said they were not going to fix it anymore for me. Of course she would be happy to sell me a new Kenmore vacuum complete with another Powerhead Mini and warranty. I bought a Dyson (from another store) and the Kenmore went out to the garage minus the Powerhead Mini which went in the garbage.

  78. BlazerUnit says:

    SEARS: Kitchen appliances, outdoor appliances (mowers, etc.) electronics, and furniture.
    **Brand new stores away from dying malls. Keep your neighborhood stores in the rural areas stocked with electronics, outdoor appliances, and tools.

    The store that needs the real reinvention is Kmart. No more direct challenges to Walmart and Target–those days are done. Kmart should instead move downmarket, with newer, smaller stores (50,000 sq. ft ‘Quick K’ instead of the 100,000+ ‘Big K’) that rival the likes of Dollar General, Freds, Family Dollar, etc. You’re going to beat these stores in groceries selection, discount clothing (ONLY the staples), small electronics, and tools. Basically, you’re going back to the medium-size roots that you had before the rise of hypermarkets. And you’ll do it towns that haven’t had (or never got a Kmart) during the 1990s expansion times.