There are certain cultural icons whose incipient demise I regret more than others — and one is Sears Roebuck. We regularly got the Sears catalog when I was growing up, a thick book of offerings which provided us with hours of perusing. Even the toys and games that were far too expensive were right there on the page to entice us into imagining that they one day might be ours. My mother ordered all our Christmas gifts from Sears, and most other things that we got during the year as well.
I haven’t been inside a Sears store in years, which is of course the problem for the venerable but rapidly sinking retailer. According to the article the stores have grown shabby, and Amazon has supplanted Sears in delivering items right to your door — and I don’t remember Sears having anything resembling Amazon Prime.
Sears stores were near our neighborhoods, and they provided jobs and middle class lives to a lot of families. Amazon fulfillment centers are out in the middle of nowhere, where real estate is cheap. Sears employees worked on commission, and made a good living. Amazon has two tiers of workers: the hourly people at the fulfillment centers, and the people who do professional level jobs and get paid accordingly. Gone is that middle tier, the guy who sold your mother the Kenmore refrigerator off the display floor. Those jobs were the ones that sustained communities and neighborhoods like ours.
Legacy retailers like Sears don’t really stand a chance in this new environment, and I get that. I’m a big fan of Amazon, and after all, if I cared that much about Sears I could have kept shopping there. But Sears is a part of my growing up, and an exemplar of a simpler time — not necessarily a better one, but a simpler, slower moving one. I know that it’s gone, but I can’t help feeling a lingering regret.
Was your family a Sears shopper? Did you get the catalog? Any good memories for you connected to Sears?