Can The "Sears Catalog" Save Sears?

When Sears chairman, Eddie Lampert, took over Kmart, he was determined to revive the long dead “blue light special.” Excited about bringing back the old favorite, Lampert’s chief marketing officer called the new campaign a “marketplace of discoveries.”

Sadly for Lampert, the most shoppers “discovered” Kmart stores were dirty, understocked, and oddly overpriced.

The latest old idea that Lampert is going to make new again may be the “Sears catalog.” The Chicago Tribune seems to think that its an old idea that may actually save Sears:

“If you think about what the Big Book originally tried to do, it was to open up all this stuff to people living in the cabins in the Plains, and that’s essentially what they’re doing,” said e-commerce guru Bill Bass, who ran Sears’ online business before Lampert took control of Sears in 2005. Bass currently is co-founder and CEO of Fair Indigo, a fair-trade direct merchant of clothing. “When you think about the power of the Internet, that’s what it’s really good at.”

Brand expert Jonathan Salem Baskin is one who sees the potential. He outlined his self-described radical idea for saving Sears on his blog, envisioning Sears.com as “a gateway to whatever is hot.” He suggests Sears host branded boutiques from vendors around the world. Its 3,500-store base could shrink and function as a place Americans can go to pick up or exchange merchandise.

“Talk about a rich heritage,” said Baskin, president of Baskin Associates Inc., a Chicago-based brand consulting firm. “Like anything, it would take some commitment. Why couldn’t Sears bring the world to me?”

Do we need another Amazon.com-type retailer?

How is Sears doing these days? Are they still having major problem with their repair division? Tell us at tips@consumerist.com, and put “Sears” in the subject. Remember: We love pictures.

Sears: Virtual approach to a vintage retailing idea [Chicago Tribune]
(Photo:I na aina e )