The time has come for Sears to go the way of Blockbuster, of Toys R Us, and of Circuit City. As of October 15th, 2018, Sears Holdings, the parent company of Sears and Kmart filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. If you go to the Wikipedia article about Sears you’ll see this listed on the little tile to the right placed ever so ominously beside the word “fate”.

With this motion for bankruptcy, there are 3 Sears stores set to close in Maryland alone and many more throughout the states. That means there will no longer be a Sears at the Townmall in Westminster. Kmart stores will also be closing at the same time. We were honestly surprised they were still in existence at all, but here we are. You can see a full list of both stores’ losses here.¬†

With so many huge retailers closing and the rise of online shopping, one may be tempted to turn to Amazon and shake their fist, accusing them of slaying the ancient dragons of retail. Though Amazon is not without its own share of sins (feel free to shake your fist), Sears did this to themselves. Let’s take a look at how they fell like so many enormous department stores before them. (Lookin’ at you Hecht’s.)

Sears Made a Critical Mistake Back in the 90’s

Remember the 90’s? Pogs , Alf, and Seinfeld were still cool. Sears was once one of the biggest names in retail. In fact, during its peak, Sears was the largest retailer and employer in the US. This was due to their catalogs, which no one else was really doing back then. Imagine, you get a little book in the mail and you can order things out of it and they’ll send them right to your door. Actually, that sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it? Well, back then, Sears was ahead of the curve.

However, as Walmart and Target started showing up to the party with a wider variety of products and lower prices, things took a turn for the department store. Home Depot also hurt their hardware sales.

This is when Sears made their first critical mistake. Though they cut some of their costs and closed some marginal locations, they didn’t reinvest in their brand. They got rid of their catalog and hoped people would still come in and spend money in their stores, which isn’t much of a business strategy, really.

View this post on Instagram

Blue light special in electronics!

A post shared by BrightSunFilms (@brightsunfilms) on

As the mid-2000’s rolled around, things weren’t looking good for Sears. A hedge fund operator named Eddie Lampert bought the department store chain and merged it with Kmart. At no point did Lampert do anything to invest in the business as a viable, profitable department store.¬†They closed regional locations and sold plenty of shares including both their Kenmore and hardware brands, but it didn’t seem to help.

So, if you’d like to take one last look at your local Sears, make the trip quickly. It won’t be there for much longer.