Kmart’s Death Without Dignity

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Dennis Sanders

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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71 Responses

  1. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    It worked for 7/11. 7/11 Japan was spun off as its own company, 7/11 America was run into the ground by its management, in much the same way you describe with Kmart, 7/11 Japan came back and bought out the erstwhile 7/11 parent company, and has since turned it around nicely (afaict).Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Kolohe
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      says:

      Tower Records is also still a thing in Japan apparently.Report

      • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        “Lawson Station.”

        When I was growing up in NE Ohio, there was a chain of convenience/dairy stores called Lawson’s. Then they were all gone. Many years later (like, 25), I was reading an article online about conbini – Japanese convenience stores. They referred to Lawson Station and had the logo – almost identical to the long-lost Lawson’s sign of my youth.

        It was weird. Almost Proust’s madeline.

        Apparently they have one or two in Waikiki, because of the high numbers of Japanese tourists. If I ever get back to Hawaii and can get my hands on a Lawson Station t-shirt, I’m buying it….Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to fillyjonk
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          says:

          I remember Lawson’s Station when I was in Japan in 2002-2003. I can guarantee that they have things that are mainly not found in NE Ohio from your youth except maybe coke.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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            I miss melon pan and a streamed bread that they had at convenience stores in Japan. They are much more advanced in the snack food sciences than we are in the United States.Report

            • Avatar atomickristin in reply to LeeEsq
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              And the hot tea in cans!! I still miss that almost 30 years later. I can’t understand why a clever entrepreneur has not started marketing the Japanese hot tea in a can in the US since the iced tea boom.Report

          • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Saul Degraw
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            Oh, I don’t expect they carry Big O orange juice or the onion dip.

            and the ice-cream bars that had reusable sticks (could be used as a building toy) were long gone by the time I was a teen anyway.Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to fillyjonk
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          says:

          Trader Vic’s is still around too, but most of them are in the Middle East (the Arabic nations, not the Appalachian states).Report

  2. fillyjonk fillyjonk
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    says:

    Sears, though: it makes me sad that a company that pretty much got its start selling EVERYTHING via catalog (in some communities, there still stand houses from “Sears kits”) couldn’t get a foothold in the Internet era and morph itself into “the catalog-seller for the 21st century.”

    Though it does look like we can trace the blame back to one greedy guy, or so the article implies?

    (I used to LOVE Land’s End clothes back when they were their own company; wore them all through prep school. Then when Sears bought it up I figured, “Uh-oh, there goes the quality” and I was at least partially right. At least they’re not going to get dragged down in Sears’ whirlpool when it dies, I guess, though I don’t know if the quality is as good again as it once was….then again, nothing these days (other than electronics) is as good as it once was; stuff is more-cheaply made to be more-cheaply sold and people don’t mind replacing stuff in a year or two.)Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to fillyjonk
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      says:

      The irony about Sears is that it issued its last catalog in 1993. Amazon was founded in 1994. It is possible to imagine a universe where Sears kept the catalog model a bit longer, and transitioned it to the internet. In this universe, Sears had a lot more imagination in its C-suite than in our universe.Report

      • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Richard Hershberger
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        1993, eh?

        I remember the Wish Books from my childhood (how we planned out our letters to Santa) but kind of ignored them after I was 12 or so (and “too old” to ask for toys). I never knew exactly when they stopped. (FWIW, I was 12 in 1982 or thereabouts)Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to fillyjonk
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          We still get plenty of catalogs in the mail, mostly without having provided any encouragement. The ones with toys I pass to my nine-year old, so she can have the fun of circling the stuff she wants. I tell her it would be easier for her to circle the stuff she doesn’t want, but she never listens to me.Report

      • Avatar Dan d in reply to Richard Hershberger
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        says:

        The Seat Catalog was online via Prodigy in the late 80s.Report

  3. Avatar Kimmi
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    says:

    So are you cheering for Yellen?
    Free Money Crisis is what’s been keeping retail limping along. Raise the refinancing rates (the loan terms), and suddenly, everyone’s out of business.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Isn’t this just the natural results of the free market? Businesses that are obsolete or can’t deal with changing times will fail. Even well run businesses with dedicated customers will fail if the landlord decides another tenant can pay higher rent. That’s supposed to be the way of the world to market advocates. Businesses don’t get a dignified death or a second chance because of past virtue.Report

  5. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    Dennis,
    I saw the same thing as you did, albit a bit later, in my small town. The main street was essentially dead. Folk stopped going. They’d rather go to Portland where all the cool malls were, or maybe The Dalles or Yakima.

    After moving to the east and moving into the “marital” estate our local town had a mall that was dead in all practicality. It had a Kmart and it took years for the lease negotiations to get them out and get the mall renovated. It appears to be a thriving location now, although I no longer live in that area. But I see similar things in my local mall. Higher end stores swap in and out. Sears has been in long decline for decades. My mall has recently announced that Sears is consolidating from two floors to one.

    I’ll not begrudge an investor/owner taking the long view and squeezing profits or configuring his losses to max a tax benefit. Such is the way of things.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Damon
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      When I moved to my little town, the downtown was dead. Locals talked about how there used to be a Penney’s, and a T G and Y, and a downtown grocery store, and a bookstore. Then everyone was able to afford a car and decided they’d rather drive the hour’s round trip to the next nearest city.

      Then, for a brief period (about 2009-2016), we had a flowering of small specialty businesses: several gift shops, a couple with cafes inside. A quilt shop. A bookstore. A gourmet shop. It was lovely. I once commented that I didn’t need to go out of town for gifts any more.

      Then the businesses started to close up. In one case (a gift shop) I know the owner wanted to retire but now really the only thing left is the gourmet shop and a “party place” that caters to high end children’s birthday parties. (Why do we only have “nice” stuff for little kids? Don’t adults get nice stuff?)

      We did recently have a quilt shop re-open, it is inside a car dealership. I can only assume that’s how niche businesses will make it in the future: be inside a more general and presumably more profitable business. (It’s also not impossible that the owner of the quilt shop is a wife, sister, or daughter of the owner of the dealership).

      I dunno. I like “fun” shopping – for craft supplies, books, antiques, that sort of thing – as a way of getting out of the house and blowing some of the cobwebs of work that accumulate in my brain, and if that all goes online….well, it’s not the same.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to fillyjonk
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        a “party place” that caters to high end children’s birthday parties. (Why do we only have “nice” stuff for little kids? Don’t adults get nice stuff?)

        I was astounded to learn of the extent of the kids’ birthday party industrial complex. I wonder what percentage of the local economy it fills. I never knew, until I had kids. My kid would be invited to one of these, and would want one for herself. Our rule is every other year. That way we are only paying for one a year.

        I have to admit, though, that they do a bang-up job. We have used several venues, and have attended quite a few more. They have uniformly been well organized, and the kids had a great time. There is a lot of competition between the various venues. Typically each has their own gimmick, and beyond that they compete on service pretty fiercely.Report

        • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Richard Hershberger
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          My “parties” as a kid were all within family, and I generally didn’t get invited to other girls’ birthday parties (or later, to the co-ed parties). So I boggle at the level of parental competitiveness in parties today – I have heard friends who are parents complain about the pressure to provide the perfect “goodie bag” to guests.

          People ask me if I regret having children. Honestly? Not really, though when I’m old and sick and need to go in a ‘home’ ask me again.

          Still, I wish there were fun nice things for adults that didn’t center around drinking Mass Quantities, because I don’t do that.Report

        • Avatar atomickristin in reply to Richard Hershberger
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          I’m a birthday party parasite. I won’t do it just on general principle but my kids go to other people’s parties and enjoy them. The shame!!Report

  6. Avatar Lyle
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    says:

    Note to complete the history of K-Mart it came out of SS Kresge and co a five and dime store chain, as the five and dime business model began to fold up. See the history section of this wikipedia article:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kmart The Kresge store was at one time the largest store in downtown Plymouth, Mi.Report

  7. Avatar Richard Hershberger
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    says:

    WalMart’s big rise in the ’80s was because they were early adopters of information technology. When I worked for one in the early ’90s it had a sophisticated, for the time, in-store computer system and a satellite uplink to connect to the home office computers. It was quaint by modern standards. The link to the home office wasn’t continuous, but rather a daily data burst. But for 1990, this was pretty amazing. This gave WalMart better inventory management than anyone else, which is why it was able to sell everything cheaper. KMart was its most important direct competitor, filling the precise same market niche. KMart never knew what hit it.

    Everyone has caught up with WalMart at this point, and it long ago transitioned from leveraging its tech advantages into lower prices to leveraging its quasi-monopsony powers to put the squeeze on suppliers. Over the long haul this means it carries cheap crap, sometimes carrying the brand name of an otherwise reputable manufacturer. This is one reason why I avoid shopping there.

    I don’t see any hope for KMart. What niche can it occupy? If it tries to match WalMart, it runs head-on into that monolith. If it tries to be a step above WalMart, it runs into Target. A step lower, and the various dollar stores. With no vacant niche, it would have to spend boatloads of money to get a foothold. In bricks-and-mortar low-margin discount stores? Who is going to put up the money for that? The big question nowadays is whether WalMart will make the transition to online retail, competing with Amazon. They haven’t managed it yet, but they have a lot of resources to throw at the problem.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Richard Hershberger
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      says:

      Walmart is a tech thief. If you care about such things, you won’t buy from them.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Richard Hershberger
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      I think Walmart also has long had a real estate angle built around purchasing a lot of land around the store. The excess land can then be leased to other stores to help pay for the build or as a continual source of rents. They expend a lot more resources in identifying land for this type of large-scale commercial development, and obtaining tenants that compliment and don’t compete with its business.

      It pretty much puts Walmart in a different type of business than most other large stores, and particularly K-Mart with store locations that are often in older, less desirable locations.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to PD Shaw
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        One of the slams on Walmart, before they started to build in more urbanized areas, was that they would be a supercenter a short distance away from where they had an existing store then basically abandon that existing store, leaving a sizeable strip mall dead zone. (or more if they merged a few stores in the area into the supercenter)

        So if they have an angle on commercial real estate, they’re not doing a good job at it, in my view.

        (as far as I can tell as well, for the new stores in more urbanized locations, they’re leasing those – but on good terms for them, because they are Wal Mart)Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Kolohe
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          says:

          Technically, I think Walmart rents all of its stores as a tax-avoidance strategy, mostly from its own real estate investment trust in Delaware. If they are leasing from a third party, the approach is no doubt different and the lease terms I’ve seen are likely to contribute to a dead zone: low base rent, plus percentage of revenues and a loose abandonment clause means that when Walmart relocates, it can keep the property locked-up by paying a small monthly amount and providing security. That may not be great for property around old store; it may be great for property around the new.

          Walmart real estate revenues come from developing the space around its stores, which are drawn to the location because of Walmart foot traffic. I don’t think the traditional large retailers ever really took advantage of that: they had a store size in mind and looked for real estate that could accommodate that. If there was excess land, they may not purchase it, or they might treat it as a secondary negotiating point, but there was no real plan and the excess property might be leased as an afterthought.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Kolohe
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          says:

          This process was going on in the ’90s. In their initial expansion into, say, Texas they had put in comparatively small stores in every town, thereby largely killing off most local retail. Then in the subsequent round they went for much larger stores. These weren’t necessary supercenters, which simply means a full grocery section. Either way, they would put in the large store in some central location and then shut down those smaller stores surrounding it. This wasn’t evil intend from the get go, but rather a complete indifference for the health of the communities where they were located: not their problem, in their capitalist splendor.Report

  8. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    I’m with Lee here and Richard’s last paragraph here. What strikes me about essays like this, essays that mourn the death of small-town (usually but not always Midwestern) staples is that they strike me as special pleading and tribalism.

    There is a blog I’ve mentioned here called Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York covers the highlights of old New York that are getting crushed and turned into just another frozen yogurt place, just another fancy condo, just another bank branch.

    http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/

    I have mixed feelings on Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and/or the equivalents that spring up in another neighborhoods. On the one hand, nothing lasts forever and some stores featured have outlived their natural lifespans. Only the most old-school of writers still use typewriters and everyone is going digital for film these days even if there was a romance in the old developing darkrooms. Or some restaurant or other business where the owners were looking to retire (or died) and their kids did not want to take over but were still good. But there are also some true icons that are gone like the Roseland Ballroom and it is depressing to see how many bank branches can seemingly open on one city block because those are the only outfits that can afford the rent usually.

    But when I talk about this on the blog, the reaction has been generally unsympathetic because times just gotta move forward man.

    So tell me, why does K-Mart and Sears and any other small-town staple deserve more consideration than the Roseland Ballroom where millions of New Yorkers danced for decades, CBGB’s where some of the music iconic music debuted, or the old rickity Community Book Store in Cobble Hill.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Nostalgia is a disease wherever it lurks.

      All things change, all things fade or renew themselves into a new form.

      Self-aware people rid themselves of nostalgia with a vengeance.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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      Special pleadings is right. People understandably want what they like about the past to remain but also desire the present and the future. The stores and businesses in Vanishing New York are a thing of the past because becoming a sole proprietor or partner in a low to mid end restaurant or store doesn’t provide a good living anymore to many people. If you want to preserve certain institutions than you need to create an economic and social system that favors these institutions above others.Report

  9. Avatar Dennis Sanders
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    says:

    I wanted to respond to the criticisms of this being business and the danger of nostalgia. I’m not saying Kmart should be around forever. Businesses close all the time. It very well might be time for Kmart to close. Speaking as someone who is libertarianish, I do believe that the market can dictate who lives and who doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings for businesses or remember the good times associated with them. The market is not a place devoid of meaning; people give meaning to a lot of things that the market at one time or another deems not able to survive.

    Nostalgia can be a problem, but it is also a reminder of maybe something or someone that was lost. My sadness at Kmart is tied up with an era when the part of Michigan where I grew up was still vibrant with the auto industry. Nostalgia is dangerous if it prevents you from moving forward, but it can be a way to grieve what has been lost.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Dennis Sanders
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      says:

      Dennis,
      Unfounded Grief itself is poison, and comes from a fear of death that self-aware humans try to free themselves from.
      There are many things in this world that keep clattering on well past when they should have fallen apart, because people extend their natural fear of Their Own Death to Every Goddamn Enterprise They Deal With.

      Charities, for what it’s worth, are a hell of a lot more prone to this than corporations.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Dennis Sanders
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      There’s also the frustration of seeing something bad, or sad, happen when it doesn’t need to.

      KMart didn’t need to fail. It could have been saved. It could have thrived, even. Instead, its leaders made short-sighted decisions and this is the result.

      I don’t see anything wrong with using KMart as a milepost along the “transformation of non-urban America” journey that, I suspect, a large number of Clinton voters have either missed completely, or underestimated the importance of.

      I’m not saying that people got sad about their KMarts closing and therefore voted for Trump, but a measure of understanding about why they were sad about their KMarts closing and a plan for some way to get to a better tomorrow might have persuaded just enough of them to not vote for Trump that things might have been different last November.

      “Too bad for you, KMart shoppers, but there’s a blue light special on Rural Economic Failure,” isn’t going to bridge any gaps over the Great Sort.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        @burt-likko

        Fair enough on the stuff regarding the transformation of rural America but a lot of people also feel like their urban America has changed from them. There are powerful impulses in the United States that make us treat cities as transitory places. They are either for the very rich or for young people before the settle down and marry and move to the burbs.

        But tens of millions of Americans grew up in cities and many of these Americans are just as marginalized or even more marginalized than rural Americans. They are often people of color and also often poor. But they are told nothing lasts forever and you have to get used to gentrification.

        So who gets to decide who fails and when? How many sole proprietorships in American cities could have been saved from high rents? There are lots of businesses that fold because the owners want to move on or just aren’t offering a product that people want anymore but I also hear a lot of stories like “We were doing really well but our landlord jacked up the rent to something unreasonable” or “This bar or pizza place did well when there were a lot of apartments in the neighborhood but now all the buildings are being reconverted to single family homes and we don’t get enough foot traffic.”

        My issue is not the nostalgia of things gone by. My issue is the inconsistent empathy on the issue. And I’ve seen a lot of people from the blue corner say we need to understand rural America, it is what makes Hillbilly Elegy a bestseller but I don’t ever see it returned in kind.Report

        • Avatar atomickristin in reply to Saul Degraw
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          Saul, I suspect that all has a lot to do with as you put it once, your priors. I find that you assume a lot about where people are coming from that is not always warranted. I despise gentrification and I think it’s equally tragic that the inner cities and downtowns, once so vibrant, have decayed. If not more so, because while this is a matter of personal taste, in terms of culture and architecture alone there’s a hell of a lot more of worth in an old theater or ballroom than in a JC Penney store. And this decline is not only true in New York City but in smaller cities and large towns across America. I suspect that many of the reasons why are very similar to the reasons why the old department store models are going out of business, we’re just a bit farther down the road now than we were a few decades ago.

          But you know what, I don’t personally write about the decline of the inner city, because it is not what I know. I know, like Dennis does it seems, KMart and JC Penney and thus that is what I tend write about. Writers are supposed to write what they know. We are talking about our little slice of life for those who are interested in that (if anyone). We’re capturing a piece of our experience that was shared by millions of people and while some may not find it particularly poetic, it’s what we lived. And it’s ok to write about that. You view that through your own lens as you are, of course, entitled to, but I’m not playing along with this pretense where we are biased because “nostalgia”, and you are somehow immune from bias and some sort of neutral observer.

          Entire books are written on subjects like these and this expectation that people are able to write these all-encompassing treatises on exceedingly complex subjects including every viewpoint and every human life experience ever – that’s not what POV essays are supposed to be. Just because Dennis didn’t happen to cover every square inch of territory in a brief essay doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about those things or that he thinks his way is superior or more worthy of salvation or political consideration.Report

        • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Saul Degraw
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          You may wish to reread Hillbilly Elegy. The author isn’t for the most part very nostalgic about the culture he came from.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        K-Mart isn’t rural though; its primarily an urban retailer, with a relatively high Black and Hispanic customer base. This is from 2002:

        Kmart’s best hope for survival lies in a core group of several hundred stores in urban areas, far from any Wal-Mart and Target outlets. “Their urban locations provide a level of convenience that’s potentially unmatched,” says Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Emme P. Kozloff. “Wal-Mart and Target won’t go into those areas.” Plus, she adds, Kmart has very low-cost, long-term leases on those stores. Kmart hopes to dramatically boost sales and profits at its urban stores by adding a full assortment of groceries–including fresh meat, produce, and bakery products–tailored to each community’s ethnic mix. If Kmart executes this play correctly, it stands a good chance of success.

        Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to PD Shaw
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          There was a huge K-Mart right near the Astor Place subway stop in NYC. I think its core customers were probably generations of NYU students and maybe New School Students.

          I never knew what K-Marts niche was. Target had the young to youngish but broke college graduate crowd/vibe. Walmart was exurban. Costco suburban and then K-Mart.

          What I will say is that the big stores like K-Mart/Walmart tend to also become social centers where they are and often because there is nothing else. IDK if anyone is going to morn the death of the East Village K-Mart like they would morn the death of a local bookstore in NYC.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw
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            says:

            @saul-degraw

            “IDK if anyone is going to morn the death of the East Village K-Mart like they would morn the death of a local bookstore in NYC.”

            Above you talk about “inconsistent empathy”. Are the people who mourn the local bookstore but not the East Village K-Mart displaying “inconsistent empathy”?Report

  10. Avatar J_A
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    says:

    Far from me to seem to be praising Romney, but….

    …Lampert is just doing what Bain Capital did. It identified something (Sears) that was worth much less than the sum of its parts (real state, certain brands, distribution networks, old copyrights) and he is just bringing out that value (at a big profit for himself) out from the crushing weight of a failed company.

    At the end of the day, it is better in the aggregate for the real state to be repurposed to more productive uses, the good brands to be untainted from the failed one, etc.

    Could Sears have been saved? Perhaps. I grew up in a time when Sears was the best place ever. But I won’t miss it if it goes away (and there’s one not two miles from my home (*) where I buy my car batteries and got most of my kitchen appliances). There’s already too many companies doing the same thing, at least in my big city life.

    (*) I’m convinced the only reason that Sears store does not close is that it controls a big lot literally in the wrong sidewalk from very valuable real state (Shepherd just across the street from the Garden Oaks-Oak Forest super neighborhood, for Houstonians here). GOOF has been one of the fastest value appreciating areas in Houston. I’m sure Lampert is waiting for the magic to spill to his side of the street, and make this city’s real state deal of the year.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to J_A
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      says:

      I recently bought a new kitchen range, doing my bit for the durable goods stats. I never seriously considered buying it from Sears. Ten years ago that would have been an obvious choice, or at least option, but I have read too many horror stories about Sears delivery disasters. It probably would have gone just fine, but if things went south there seems not to be any mechanism left for fixing it. I also wonder about Sears’ own brands, and if they haven’t let the quality slip in an effort to cut costs. I have no specific information about this happening, but it is the sort of thing corporations do under these circumstances.

      I ended up going to Lowes. It could just have easily been Home Depot. They are nearly adjacent to one another, and I consider them functionally identical. It was delivered the next Saturday, on time and with no problem. I’m pretty sure the delivery was subcontracted out, but they were fine.Report

      • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Richard Hershberger
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        When I was a kid, all our appliances were Kenmores.

        I doubt I’d buy the brand now.

        I’m not sure what brand I WILL buy when the current range/fridge/washer and dryer crap out; everyone I know who has bought appliances in the past 5 years has some kind of horror story about the first one they bought being no good, or it dying within weeks of delivery, or some such. I’m not rich enough for Sub-Zero or whatever the prestige brands are: so I guess that’s the choice now, go into eternal debt for a prestige brand or play Russian roulette with buying a new fridge that might leave you with a puddle of meltwater and spoiled food a month after you buy it.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to fillyjonk
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          says:

          We replaced the fridge about five years ago. It has worked just fine. We’ve had the new range several weeks now with no problem. I suspect selection bias in those horror stories. In any case, the question is not so much did this happen, but how did the manufacturer and/or store respond?Report

          • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Richard Hershberger
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            In most cases, they had a new whatever within a few weeks. But I find even low-level logistics foul-ups totally undo me. And going weeks without a functional fridge would be a major issue for me. (I’d probably wind up buying one of those damn dorm cube-fridges and trying to live with that)

            The heating unit recently failed in my parents’ 25-year-old oven. My mom called the repair guy they’ve used for years and sheepishly asked him if it was worth replacing. The repair guy said, “On this model stove? I’d be committing malpractice to tell you to buy a new stove” and he came out and replaced the unit for about 1/4 the price of a new range/oven.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to fillyjonk
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          One of the less usual considerations will be what processor, OS, and IP stack are running on it. One of the big names — LG perhaps? — has already announced that all of their household appliances will be wifi-capable and internet-aware. Has your new refrigerator been compromised? Has it been loaded up with some botnet software, or toolkits for cracking your personal computer? What mischief is it getting up to with your new washing machine of a different brand?

          The internet of things (that will leak all sorts of personal data) terrifies me.Report

          • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Michael Cain
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            says:

            Oh, I guess I didn’t add that I will never buy a linkable appliance if I can avoid it, and if I HAVE to buy one I’m going to see what I can do to avoid linking/delink it. All my current stuff is “dumb” appliances (bought before the IoS) and I really don’t want to be a part of it

            I don’t need my refrigerator trolling me. Or my dishwasher sending me a text to remind me to unload it.

            (And that’s probably another thing: it will devolve to good-quality, high-end stuff all being Internet of S*** things that force you to link in to the Matrix, or it will be POS made badly for the people with no money and no internet)Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to fillyjonk
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              says:

              It is not clear how much longer it will be possible to buy a non-processor non-wireless appliance. Over the last 20 years, design has become more and more likely to include a system-on-chip plus a few sensors and actuators, with all of the control logic implemented in software. The other day I got e-mail about the latest Raspberry Pi product: the Pi Zero W. 1 Ghz CPU/GPU combination, 512 Mbyte main memory, as much non-volatile storage as you want, full wifi and Bluetooth, 40-pin header for IO, high-def HDMI output, high-res camera input. Quantity one price, $10. Lord knows what an equivalent costs LG when they buy them by the millions.Report

  11. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    There was a Sears one town over from me growing up… a pretty big standalone one. We went decently often because it was my dad’s kind of store (not so much my mom) and it worked well for a firefighter/landscaper and school teacher trying to make it work with 4 kids.

    Anyway, it had a small tower section, maybe 8 stories tall? Probably not even. And it said “SEARS” in big letters. At the time I remember thinking, “The Sears Tower ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

    Photo here: http://www.roadarch.com/09/2/sears.jpgReport

  12. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9nlzNcujFs

    That’s something a management staff that cared about the brand could have nipped in the bud.Report

  13. Avatar Crprod
    Ignored
    says:

    We quit going to Kmart when they failed to keep shelves stocked. We have a few Sears appliances around, but I don’t call Sears for support anymore. It’s been awhile since I did call, but I remember something about paying a lot in advance to skip visit charges in the future or paying a high visit charge.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    We shopped at Meijer’s in Michigan. It was like a proto-Wal-Mart in that it had a section with clothing and housewares on one side of the store and a grocery store on the other.

    On Sundays, the section with clothing and housewares was dark and they put up flimsy barriers to keep customers from shopping in any section but the one with food.Report

  15. Avatar Aaron David
    Ignored
    says:

    You know, I went into the local K-mart the other day, needed some wrapping paper. Reasonably laid out, fullish shelves, reminded me of the few times I have been in a Wal-Mart. But the checkout… endless questions about applying for a credit card (“no thanks”), extra receipts for coupons (“save $5 on your next $65 purchase!), all in an obvious attempt to generate return customers.

    It doesn’t want to die, but it doesn’t know how to thrive. So it will keep going down the road it is on.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin in reply to Aaron David
      Ignored
      says:

      Oh gosh you’re so right about that!! I forgot that but it’s a big reason why we gave up even bothering with KMart. They do that to every customer and the lines are FOREVER.Report

  16. Avatar Anthony DiDomenico
    Ignored
    says:

    Sadly where I live as of last year I lost three Kmart stores and now it’s either walmart, target and meijer. Further more is I will only shop at target and meijer. I am a former associate of walmart and further more walmart is a joke of a retailer, no respect to customers or their associates. But yet their associates for Sam’s Club get a better hourly rate over walmart itself. Sorry walmart your prices don’t work for my wallet!Report

  17. Avatar Brodie
    Ignored
    says:

    You should not include the hash tag Kmart Australia this has nothing to do with Kmart Australia. Kmart Australia is worth 500 million and open more stores not closing them, it’s only the American Kmart closing as they can’t run a business right.Report

  18. Avatar atomickristin
    Ignored
    says:

    Thanks for the essay, Dennis! I really enjoyed it.Report

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