K-Mart and Sears: to hell in the same handbasket.

How viable are the Sears locations? I mean, I’m sure that they have value for the land alone; but as actual retail sites, aren’t some of the existing stores kind of relics? Seems I remember them being mostly in the older “first generation” shopping malls, the smaller ones, with no food court, limited store selection, etc. Maybe they’ve renovated those malls/Sears stores, I suppose. But at least some of the Sears locations I can think of aren’t in the best neighborhoods. How do their sites fit in with what seems to be the modern trend to exurban big box stores on major highways in/near suburban communities? “Big K” seems to have done a little bit more expansion on that front (though I can also think of some fairly gritty KMart sites).

Also FYI Home Depot is the number two retailer in the country not Target.

Wal-Mart is number one with $256.3 bn in net sales and $104.9 bn in total assets.

Home Deport is number two with $64.8 bn in net sales and $34.4 bn in total assets.

Target is number three with $48.1 bn in net sales and $31.4 bn in total assets.

The other merger I am reminded of is Sperry and Burroughs into Unisys. They had some cute slogan and all I could think was “two companies about to be left behind together.”

As for K-Mart, your memories are the same as mine. I grew up (70’s) in a house behind a K-Mart and we went out of our way to shop anywhere else.

I wonder if step 1 in the merger plan is to implement the K-Mart systems in Sears so that inventory can get screwed up beyond belief.

Sears is an anchor in the two major shopping malls around here. In the older mall (which is by no means dumpy or antiquated), it’s two floors and connects to a parking garage. A great location.

Sears as a whole has been a chain looking for a reason for quite some time. However, it does have some particular strengths. Its Craftsman hand tools are excellent. The $100 Craftsman lawn mower I bought in 1994 lasted 9 years; its $150 replacement is doing great after two seasons. The Craftsman electric drill I bought ~25 years ago is still going strong; I use it all the time. I’ll report later on the Craftsman table saw my wife bought me Saturday as an early Christmas present; I haven’t had time to get it out of the box yet.

Their Kenmore appliances are solid, reliable appliances. We bought a Kenmore washer and dryer in 1991 for about $500 for the pair; they’re still working well for now, although we’re about to replace them; the repairman says it’s time. (If anyone in the DC/Balt/Annapolis area wants a free used washer and dryer set, please email me in the next 10 days!) We’re replacing them with Kenmores.

K-Mart, OTOH, really has no distinguishing characteristics whatsoever. If you want cheap, you go to Wal-Mart; if you want nice, you go to Target (or something higher on the food chain). Their service generally sucks, and when I’ve gone there to buy something from their sale flyer, their registers frequently don’t have the sale prices programmed in. There are a handful of things I buy at K-Mart because they reliably have exactly what I want, and other stores don’t - but these are exceptions, and they only rate a K-Mart shopping trip once every six months or so.


I believe Kenmore washers and dryers are just rebranded Maytag gear, RT. Comes off the same assembly line and everything. You might want to shop around for a lower price.


Not necessarily Maytag. My Kenmore washer and drier were made by Whirlpool.


I learned the hard way about Craftsman power tools. Their hand-tools are fine, but every piece of Craftsman equipment that is power (lawnmowers, saws, etc) is re-branded from another manufacturer. For example, my Craftsman 10" miter saw is built by Ryobi, as is my 10" portable table saw. I don’t think I would even mind so much, if parts were available for them, but they’re not. My table saw has goofy tabbed miter-gauge slots that won’t accept any other type of accessory, even the “standard” accessories for other saws - and Sears doesn’t sell any accessories for the saw. GAAGH!!! Of course, I was a novice when I bought the saw, so I’ve since learned better…I’ve started buying other-brand tools instead. If on half-chance I happen to find a Craftsman power tool that I like, I hunt around and find the REAL manufacturer and buy it under that brand; it’s always cheaper than the Craftsman version…

…and the re-branding isn’t exclusive to the Craftsman line. Like someone else said, the Kenmore stuff is re-branded Whirlpool stuff. Sears doesn’t re-brand Maytag - they just sell it outright now, and have for a few years now.

What exactly was the idea in having a “store” brand like Kenmore? The really weird thing is…American companies spend BILLIONS in ads, trying to convince us that brand names are worth something-then they let the cat out of the bag, by selling the often-identical store brand next to the real thing! I just don’t get it! Its like GM with its Chevy-Buick-Oldsmobiles…underneath, they are all the same! It is so stupid!

Two comments-

My friend Brian at work- That’s like the Hindenberg buying the Titanic.

My own- This is like watching two decrepit dinosaurs mating in a futile effort to ward off extinction.

It’s not even that.

It’s an effort to make as much money as they can for the stakeholders before both go under.

You meant “for the execs,” right?

Seeing as the execs are probably the largest stakeholders.

You can say that.

I do believe that the execs take care of themselves before they attend to the needs of the bondholders and stockholders.

Kmart is the only place to get Martha Stewart Living stuff… and her brand is doing fairly well even with her going to jail. And seeing as how Wal-Mart sales were lower this Black Friday weekend than expected, there is room for a smart merchandiser.

However the key is to focus on the boomers and what they now want in shopping: personal experiences at a boutique level. Sears/Kmart should overhaul its real estate into real departments with a horde of personal shoppers ready to guide you around the entire store. Knowledgeable staff are want people want.

Remarkable, Sears invented ‘shopping by internet’ (actually by telegraph), and just as the idea had a rebirth, they screwed it all up. Remember how Sears was scamming customers at its auto-repair places? I do.

I also remember my Sears bike. It was nonstandard all to heck. Impossible to repair.

K-Mart? The only thing they have going for them is that I confuse them with the Big Boys.

I give both stores a wide berth.