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Can Sears be saved?

Johnson City Press • Oct 21, 2018 at 6:45 PM

Many of us members of the older generations have warm spots in our hearts and minds for the pervasive retailer formerly known as Sears, Roebuck and Co.

As much as they can be formed, it’s safe to say many of us even felt close bonds with the now 126-year-old company that got its start selling everything from sewing machines to rifles in its all-encompassing mail order catalog.

But now, that old friend is in real trouble after the once-mighty company filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Years of declining sales, lost to online retailers like Amazon and better adapted brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart and Lowe’s, have left Sears and its sister company Kmart, over-extended, over-leveraged and running out of options.

Wave after wave of Sears and Kmarts have closed over the past few years, leaving only one Sears store in Johnson City and one Kmart in Kingsport. Once Knoxville’s final Sears closes — announced in the most recent round — the next closest location is nearly 100 miles away.

It’s a sad state in which to see the former titan of business, one that once built the tallest building in the world to hold its corporate headquarters in Chicago, and many people beyond just those named in the bankruptcy documents are searching for ways to keep the ailing company afloat.

We don’t think Sears Holding Corp. executives will read the Johnson City Press for financial advice, but, if as many are saying, this bankruptcy is likely the final throes of the company we grew up with, maybe we can get some catharsis with this week’s question.

Can Sears be saved? If you think so, what changes should the company make to weather the current storm?

If you think it’s hopeless, let’s Monday morning quarterback for a bit. What missteps did the company make? What could its leaders have done differently to avoid this outcome?

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