Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A few tears for Sears employees

Another brand bites the dust
The Bend Sears store will close later this fall, just in time for Christmas for its 48 employees.

It's no surprise that this Sears outlet is going the way of others across the country.

It's a "brilliant" corporate strategy to downsize in a bad economy. Since 2010, Sears has closed more than half of its stores.

Hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert gets much of the blame for Sears' downfall when he merged it with Kmart in 2005.

Of course, Bend previously lost its Kmart store before the merger.

In many ways, these closures are symptoms of the changing retail business, particularly for department stores.

There is much more competition for appliances, tools and clothing that Sears sells.

The Bend-Redmond area has Kohls, Macys, Target, two Fred Meyers, two Home Depots, two Lowes and two super Walmarts. It also has a JC Penney, Standard appliances, a few Bi-Marts, and Harbor Freight Tools.

This region is a tad oversubscribed in retail, which has been the area's problem for more than 30 years or when Sears opened at the Bend River Mall in 1980. In fact, the Wall Street Journal once described Bend as the most over-retailed city in America.

It still is.

But, the reclusive Lampert, who became a billionaire by age 41 and was once considered the "Steve Jobs of the investment world," gets exposed in this piece on

It seems that Lampert is a devotee of Ayn Rand and her long-discredited philosophy of "objectivism," which can be called the "me-first-and-the-hell-with-you" doctrine. Rand's economic views have ruled America since the Reagan years and it's one of the main reasons we're a debtor nation with high unemployment.

Lampert is a poster child for this brand of economics. He gambled big on Wall Street and won. Therefore, he viewed his "accomplishments" as proof  that his contributions to this world are greater than almost everyone else's. Easy money does that to some folks.

He would hand out copies of Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" at board meetings. (Note to workers: If your boss does this, it's time to look for another job.)

Lampert would consider himself a job creator, but his track record says the exact opposite.

At the rate he's going, Lampert should be able to kill off Sears, and all those jobs, in a couple more years.

For a different take on the claim that the rich are the only real "job creators" out there, check out what this billionaire has to say on a TED talk that got banned from TED, because, presumably, it counters the myth that tax cuts create wealth which creates jobs.


1 comment:

  1. I'm saddened by the loss of 50 jobs here in Bend but not at all surprised. Sears just didn't adapt to the changes in retail and you see the results. JCP is going down as well, it's only a matter of time. They have a new plan but I think it's too late for JCP. I think Sears suffered from some the same issues Walmart is facing right now but they had such a weak hand to play, they simply faded out. Walmart and Sears both cater to a market that doesn't have much discretionary spending money the last 5-6 years. Walmart is struggling right now while Costco(who operates on smaller margins) is doing well. I'm talking nationally, not locally. Both provide similar items at a discount but next time you're at both, compare the cars in the parking lot. It's a different crowd for sure. WM customers are buying what they need to make it through the week while Costo shoppers still have a little extra to spend. I'm not trying to stereotype, this is just reality after the financial clusterfuck this country has been through since 2007. I'm a-political at this point, I know that we'd be in the same boat no matter who is in the white house. I know where the blame lies and it has very little to with who our elected officials are.

    I'm not sure how much longer we'll have Lowes, Depot, and all of these little ACE stores around town. Something will give, we're not that big of a market. I'm thinking that space sears occupies will not be filled completely in the next decade and there's a risk that this will drag some of the other businesses in the mall down with it. People did visit that mall just to go to sears and there had to be some benefit to the other businesses for that reason alone.

    Sad but not at all surprised....