Will Sears Survive to Turn 100?


Quinlin Pounders, In-Depth Writer

Sears, an economic powerhouse and successful department store chain has gone bankrupt, and is losing tens of stores a year. A myriad of decisions led to this, starting at the very beginning of Sears’ opening. 

When Sears first opened their stores in 1925, it made waves by being one of the first Department Stores to have supplies for both men and women, as well as advertising durability and longevity over style. In the fifties and sixties, Sears changed its stores focus from urban to suburban areas, giving up the harsh competition of the cities and moving to the suburbs, making it one of the most well-known department stores in the suburbs. As Sears continued to grow in popularity, they eventually built Sears Tower in Chicago 1973, the tallest building in the world for 25 years. 

In the 70s, Sears seemed to be the top dog, unstoppable and dominating other department stores. So, what happened? By 1991, other department stores were doing what Sears could, but better, and with lower prices. Walmart was beating Sears at its own game, which led to Sears being bought out by one of its competitors, K-mart. The K-mart-Sears merger formed the Sears Holding Corporation, which continuously lost money, stores, and employees due to poor business decisions over its fourteen-year lifespan. 

When Sears Holding Co. filed for bankruptcy in 2018, it was acquired by Transformco almost immediately. Transformco is an Integrated Retailer focused on connecting the digital and physical aspects of shopping. Transformco plans to repurpose the properties that it owns, as well as trying to expand Sears’ website. Transformco’s Public Relations Director, Larry Castello, said in an interview, “We intend to reinvigorate and maximize the value of the real estate while enhancing the consumer experience with popular retailers that fit the regional draw of Woodfield Mall… This is part of the company’s strategy to unlock the value of the real estate and pursue the highest and best use for the benefit of the local community,”.

Even though there are still 11 Sears stores open in Illinois, the past three years have been an all-time low in the history of Sears’ sales. With Transformco in charge now, it looks like a new era will begin soon. But that still begs the question- will the Sears store name survive to see their century birthday?