When these two over-the-hill losers agreed to join forces, it proved a false equation—two plus two equals three!
I was an executive at Target Stores at the time, and we were asked, “Aren’t you worried about that new dynamic competitor?” We laughed. “No,” we said. “Good riddance. It’s just a matter of time until all of their locations will be vacant, and Kmart/Sears will be an asterisk of retail lore.”
Aren’t any joined forces a warning of strength to come? Usually, but not all. Imagine that Oldsmobile and Mercury combined those brands. Customer confusion and complacency would be rampant. Or, what if Honduras and Bangladesh established a union? Only scratched heads would pay attention.
What was wrong with Kmart? Its cheap stores’ heritage couldn’t match the prices and ambience of Walmart, or the upbeat of Target. What is wrong with Sears? Obsolescence is written all over it. Just a few decades ago, three giant retail firms dominated: Penney’s, Sears, and Montgomery Ward. Montgomery Who? Sears is on its last legs, its signature brands, Kenmore and Craftsman, are gone. I predict Penney’s will be next to bite the dust. What is it, who needs it?
Can they come back? The WSJ reports that some relics of our childhood are trying—remember Shakey’s Pizza, and Frisch’s Big Boy? Well, lots of luck to them.
But Kmart/Sears has no reason to survive. Can they match the urgency created by stores like Costco, or the excitement of Wegman’s or Whole Foods grocery stores? RIP.