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Last Days of Sears: What It’s Like to Shop at a Dying Store

I went to a Sears the other day. A few decades ago, that wouldn’t have been a noteworthy event. At one point, Sears was the largest retailer in America, employing one out of every 204 working people in the country. Sears stores anchored shopping malls from coast to coast, selling everything from back-to-school clothes to tools to washing machines.

Those days are long gone. Sears is on the verge of collapse, and some experts doubt it will survive into 2018. What went wrong with this former icon of American retail? I decided to head to a Sears store myself to try to find out.

Last call at Sears

sears

sears Sears | Megan Elliott/The Cheat Sheet

My local Sears won’t be around for much longer. In June, the company announced the store, along with more than a dozen others, would close. That’s in addition to the 245 Sears and Kmart store closings that Sears Holdings announced earlier in 2017. Since 2012, Sears has shuttered more than half of its stores nationwide.

Once the Sears in La Jolla turns the lights off, the San Diego area will be left with just three outposts of the department store chain. In comparison, struggling Macy’s still has 10 stores in the region, Walmart has more than two dozen outposts, and Target has 20. My city isn’t unusual in that respect. In many parts of the U.S., Sears is down to just a handful of locations. If you want to shop there, you’re going to have to make an effort.

Next: Just how big of a fall has Sears taken over the years?

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