This is a tribute and reflection of the death of our local SEARS. It is sad to see these valued stores in our community disappear. Some people will argue it is online stores competing with them, but most people do not order refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and snow throwers online because the shipping is ridiculous, especially when the local store will deliver it for free. However, the options for the Sandpoint-Ponderay area just got more limited. We have other stores such as Home Depot, North 40, and the locally owned Co-op, but they can’t compare to the service Sears once offered.
I keep hearing how strong our economy has been, but with closures like this, the reality is far different than what we are being told. Unfortunately, the death of our local Sears is demonstrating to me an economic illness in our country as the large corporations, the safety net investments, are being sacrificed at the alter of CEOs’ greed. The death of Sears could have been prevented, stores could have been updated, Internet presence strengthened, employee benefits established, innovation embraced, but how can you part out a successful business. First, you have to make the company ill, then you can sell off a large chunk to yourself. Then you continue to short your employee staff, delay product to shelf, and the company begins to lose money as customers see the empty aisles, outdated and damaged stores, and the lack of support for once full warrantied products. The CEO sells off another chunk of the company to himself, and this continues until there is nothing left.
I hope that JCPenney’s CEO does not follow this formula. In my lifetime, I have seen the death of several stores. Some of it is understandable with the changing culture, while others it was simple greed. Some companies are purchased with the promises of upgrades. Large loans are taken out on behalf of the company, then the new parent corporation walks away with the loan money, declaring bankruptcy on the part of the company they pretended to save. The loan money is never recovered.
Another method large corporations save money is to purchase a struggling mall for cents on the dollar and keep it in disrepair. Limit the amount of businesses with high rents and write off the unused retail space at the highest rate possible to counter the high profits the company is making somewhere else. What this business plan does is to purposely destroy the American retail market.
America’s superiority in the market place is dwindling fast. It is becoming more difficult to purchase specialty items. Our selection of merchandise in this country is rapidly becoming chalked full of inferior made products that implode after a few uses. Our society has enough garbage with single use products, making durable products into consumables will increase the garbage issue. The movie Wall-E comes to mind.
So, what to do about our dying economy. Surely it is dying. As I enter Home Depot, employees ordered by corporate are trying to corral me into self checkouts. Interesting how the employees are being asked by corporate to train us customers to end their jobs. I still will go to the human check out line and wait. It is my right as a customer to choose while I still can. Walmart is doing the same thing and I refuse to enter those self checkout lines. It’s not about convenience; it’s about jobs, the economy, and human decency.
However, the growing philosophy is to automate everything possible and people “will naturally” adjust to this new work force of maintaining the A.I. robotic system. This philosophy is so out of touch with reality and to blame the people who can’t “naturally” adjust to an artificial system is insanity. It seems the homeless problem in the major cities is increasing at an exponential rate. I recently watched on YouTube “Seattle is Dying,” the problem is worse than we realize. Entry level jobs are a necessity to any culture. Labor or service jobs also provide a work ethic and a sense of accomplishment. Entry level jobs can also offer a freedom not found elsewhere if a person is out of debt, retired, a high schooler needing spending cash, or a way for a person to make ends meet until something better comes along. Also some people are waking up to the college inflation scam and have no desire to take out student loans that are generated for a “potential” high paying job that will never develop. It wasn’t long ago that people could work their way up the corporate ladder and a few wise businesses still operate this way. Unfortunately, the prevalent minds in business seem to be counter to this, which generates a corporation out of touch with their service, production, and quality control. Entry level jobs provided opportunity, hope, and achieving a dream, now the term entry level has been substituted for dead end or menial, and all hope is dashed.
One local store closes, and I can’t help but to see the overall picture that lead to this event. Cause and Effect exists in the business world as well. Here are some giants who have passed away… Toys R Us, KB Toys, Radio Shack, Kodak, ShopKo, Gymboree, Payless Shore Source, Chrysler, General Motors (GM), Washington Mutual, Lehman Brothers… There are many more closures occurring as companies close stores to slim their expenses to show investors higher profits to encourage stock prices. The investors now are behaving more like gamblers looking for the quick win. The market seems eerily similar to the birth pains of the stock market collapse of October 1929.