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Retirely in The things you own end up owning you,

Perhaps the lesson to be learned from the decline and fall of Sears is this: hedge fund guys don’t know how to actually run a business

Imagine a retailer that began by specializing in just one product, then grew into a mammoth that redefined the American shopping experience.

Among its innovations: No matter where you lived, it shipped your order directly to you, whether you were looking for cast-iron cookware, a mandolin, the newest technological marvel, or the latest in petticoats.

Amazon, right? Actually, it was Sears — a century ago.

The brainchild of a pocket-watch salesman, Sears navigated retailing through the end of the stagecoach era, the rise (and fall) of downtown department stores and the malling of suburban America. Recently it has been battling to stay relevant with the advance of online retailers — like Amazon.

For many, the story of Sears is a reflection of the carnage occurring throughout much of retail right now. In recent days, the stocks of J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Dillard’s all tumbled after they reported another round of quarterly sales declines. Some analysts expect Sears to report a third consecutive double-digit decline in same-store sales in the second quarter.

The way Sears is being run is not hamhanded, it’s intentional. They’re forcing Sears to underperform to where it has to borrow money. They then loan Sears the money it needs in exchange for its real estate holdings as collateral, which allows them to take the wealth out of Sears without the multitudes of smaller shareholders really following what’s going on well.

They’re milking the cow until the teats blister and crack and they’re feeding it by trading arable land for feedstock, then when they’re out of land they’ll slaughter the cow and leave the bones behind.

What really pisses me off is that Sears could have been what Amazon now is, tenfold. Sears was already the king of catalog sales. Amazon apparently tried to sell to Sears but was rebuffed. Sears could have used its vast distribution network, warehousing, and even retail locations to distribute products to customers just like how Amazon now does it. Instead they dropped the paper catalog book, launched the worst website for product listings possible, and then started clipping their products to the point that they’re crap. All to let a few rich people get even richer by stripping the value out of the company for short-term personal gain.