New Classic Sears Concept: Really Freakin’ Cool

Sears new

Where’s that vintage Sears photo from, you ask? Actually, it’s brand new! According to the Gwinnett (GA) Business Journal, Sears has just unveiled yet another new prototype store at the Gwinnett Place Mall. Titled the “Duluth” model for the city in which it’s located, it’s designed to appeal directly to female and teen shoppers with a more fashion-conscious image that plays up the “softer side of Sears” (remember that jingle?). According to the article:

Gone are the interior walls stacked from ground to ceiling with merchandise. You can see across the entire floor, like a show room, on each level. You’ll also notice a number of other changes … a “customer solution center” that’s equal parts concierge desk and Internet cafe. “Lifestyle vignettes” that look like cutouts of a home and show how various Sears’ offerings could look in your house. Expanded display areas of major brands such as Lands’ End clothing. And 13,000 feet of additional shopping space.

The article also mentions that it’s going well so far, and the redesign may join the myriad other Sears concepts (Department Store, Essentials, Grand, Hardware, Appliances, umm… Big Kmart) in being rolled out to select locations nationwide. And while Sears as a fashion-oriented retailer may be something of a tough sell (Personally, I think they should work on competing head-to-head with Target and sniping at the upper end of Wal-Mart’s customer base), the use of the classic Sears logo on the store is pretty awesome. It really brings back memories of the days when people got all gussied up to go shopping downtown, and when salespeople still wore white gloves.

68 Responses to “New Classic Sears Concept: Really Freakin’ Cool”

  1. [...] Labelscar picked up an interesting tidbit in the Gwinnett Business Journal about yet another Sears prototype called the “Duluth” model. It joins the laundry list of other Sears prototypes and concepts now in circulation. [...]

  2. Kinda looks like the Sears Grand that just replaced a K-Mart in my neck of the woods. I was skeptical when I first set foot in the store, but it does a really good job of catering to the Target crowd. We’ll see how it fares.

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  3. Another concept? I’m beginning to loose faith that they’ll ever find one that works. I see a lot of recycled ideas and perhaps the mixing up of some ideas. Also, adopting the ideas of OTHER stores, like Target and Kohl’s. Been there, done that.
    Putting a tuxedo on a man doesn’t make him a great leader.
    Scott

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  4. I would agree that it’s time for Sears to thin the herd with some of these concepts. They need to admit that some (Essentials) have been a failure, and convert them quickly. Here’s what I think they should do:

    1. Eliminate Kmart. The brand is damaged goods at this point, and it needs go to. The Sears name has greater value and a greater chance of surviving.
    2. From the pool of Kmart and Sears stores, thin the herd of the weakest sites (mostly the aging, 70s-vintage Kmarts) and introduce two concepts:

    a. A discount-oriented but somewhat fashionable box store format, perhaps like the current Sears Grand format (though I haven’t visited one of these stores). They should focus on being more like a department store than the competition, with the improved hardlines department of Sears crossed with pantry and convenience items that don’t tend to be found at Sears mall stores.
    b. A slightly more fashion-oriented mall store, perhaps like this new format above.

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  5. The problem with Sears is that they always tinker and introduce new store concepts WAY too effing much. That is the real truth about Sears. I also don’t like how they changed the former logo in all caps to now spell the name as Sears(not to mention they put a red underline under the new logo), instead of SEARS(which I thought their old 1990s logo in all caps was fine). The red underline under their current logo is my biggest complaint about it, and it makes the store look really cheap(and almost screams of the store going downscale, if you ask me). I’m sure I’m not the only one who was a fan of their 1990s logo(and luckily enough, hasn’t been changed on most of their mall or older offmall/neighborhood stores(which Chicago still has several of within the city limits) today!). Or heck, at the very least, they should eliminate the red underline on their new logo, and just spell out the logo just as Sears, and still use the new upper and lower-case logo(which is the way I’ve seen the logo used on their gift cards, thankfully).

    Despite that this goes back to my earlier rant about store concepts, I don’t think it helped Sears much when they also introduced a lot of store concepts at a fast pace in the 1990s, either(a la The Great Indoors, Sears Hardware, etc.). I think the confusion that resulted among consumers was why Sears lost so much market share, starting in the 1990s(in contrast to when they were among the most dominant department stores in the 1970s and 1980s).

    And though I’m undecided about whether the Kmart name should go or be kept, they should either completely all go with calling all of those stores under ONE name(whether it be Sears Grand, Sears Essentials, or Kmart). The fact they have all of their big-box stores under several names is hurting Sears/Kmart. Weird to think I pretty much forgot about Super Kmart in the process(which there still is one in the Kankakee/Bourbannais/Bradley, IL area, and near Rome, GA), but I imagine they’d be prime sites for some Sears concept store :D

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  6. I beg to differ on the logo front. I like the scripted style from the 1950s (used on stores until the early 1970s) like that which is used in this new concept location, as well as the logo used in print media from the 1960s to 1984 and on stores from the 1970s until ’84.

    Logos aside, I agree with what Caldor said. Sears needs to shed some of the padding. As nostalgic as it is for me, the K-mart name has to go. Those locations all need to be converted to Sears Grand, or if there’s a mall-based Sears nearby, or the K-mart location in question is very old, shut down.

    Sears mall stores, and new freestanding stores that are sure to be built should the chain weather all this change, need this new rebranding and concept shown above to survive. They’re only surviving at malls soley on hard goods (Your Craftsman and Kenmore stuff)…and that’s not going to help in the long run.

    While I’m not a big Sears shopper, it would still be a blow to the malls they anchor and I would miss seeing them. They’ve been a mall anchor since the 1960s at the oldest centers still open and functioning…while other chains have come and gone.

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  7. Caldor & Prangeway: I aplogize in advance for the rant. I like the ideas they’re showing overall but I’m fed up with Sears’ endless indecision.

    Other than the logo, this redesign leaves me cold. This is something like the umpteenth ‘reinvention’ of Sears and, while compelling in a way, it’s ripe for watering down if it goes national.

    If you ask me, Sears was strongest of late when they were aiming upscale in the mid-‘90s and embarked on what is still an impressive reinvention of the store experience. The new store design was unified across the chain for the first time and the merchandise was actually attractive. Somewhere along the line, they second-guessed themselves and we got crap like the “Sears: where else?” (um, like, EVERYWHERE ELSE!!!) ad campaign and the awful watered-down store interiors of the last several years.

    The last few years have promised meaningful changes like Sears Grand delivered as weak concepts like Sears Essentials in Kmart’s deadest looking stores. Or the promise of Lands’ End ruined with cheap-looking in-store shops with lackluster merchandise.

    They keep reaching upscale, and then downscale, chasing every trend report known to man while listening the least to the core Sears customer, people like my family. For our money, we’re not impressed by pyrotechnics, technology simply for the sake of it, or the even the lowest price when it’s coupled with awful looking (and fitting) merchandise, indifferent salespeople and stores that are increasingly complicated to shop.

    I’ve had enough. I’ve been willing to play along as the grand and unstoppable Sears Roebuck & Co, became the dowager anchor nobody wants to locate near at the mall with the hope that they’ll finally get it together. But I really don’t think this Gwinnett Place store is the answer, and even if it is, they’ll value-engineer all the fun out of it and make it meaningless while Target, JCPenney, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart march on.

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  8. It’s about time! Sears has seem to forgot in this world,that they need to offer better brands & more appealing store design. I think that if Sears opened more stores like the new concept above,then more people would shop there. Now they need to demolish old kmart stores,that need remodeling done. I’ve noticed that several kmarts have merchandise on their floors,un-friendly employees (at several locations i’ve noticed). What they need to do is make like a smaller scale Sears Grand to replace old kmart stores,and hire MORE FRIENDLY EMPLOYEES. This will attract more customers,thus both the buisness & customers will profit from this.

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  9. You guys seem to forget how the logo’s of stores currently in operation have changed over the years. Look at the Macy’s logo today to the ones that were common in the 50s thru the 70′s with the all capital lettering and familiar star “apostrophe”. The classic script “B” of Bloomindale’s. A&S’s (though now defunct) script Abraham & Straus, Saks familar script logo till the late 90′s etc. Sears was originally Sears Roebuck & Company as I remember years ago, then became a script Sears, after that aneon effect all captial letter logo, and the new red underline. I think it’s great to get people to think of the classic logos for a change. Too many retailers are trying to improve and refine thier images I think. We see it now in styling of autos, appliances, furniture, why not see it in the retailers as well? I see nothing wrong with converting back to the past. If I were to open a store today, it would have the same iconic appeal as those of the 40′s when department stores were in thier heyday and appealed to a broader range of consumer then today. Bravo to Sears for bringing back old traditions and lifestyles, even if it’s only a logo typeface!

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  10. As much as I love Kmart, I know it’s gonna go someday soon. I could see the herd being thinned, knocking out some smaller full-line Sears (such as the 50K Sears at Bay City Mall).

    I love Caldor’s idea of two Sears formats, only I would mix it up some. I would put some of the Sears Grand-esque stores into malls, and have some of the more fashion oriented stores off mall, depending on the market.

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  11. Oh, yes, Bonus question: What were Sears Homelife and Sears Neighborhood?

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  12. I know Homelife was the furniture division, but I’ve never heard of Neighborhood.

    I agree that some of the “Grand” style stores should be in malls. At least here in New England, stores like Kohl’s, Best Buy, and Target have been making excellent mall anchors.

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  13. Everyone, it’s called the Duluth model because the Gwinnett Place Mall is LOCATED in Duluth, GA. If any of you guys have been to Atlanta and gone northeast on I-85 past Spaghetti Junction into Gwinnett County, you’ll recognize cities like Norcross, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Swannee, and Buford. In addition, Gwinnett County is home to one of the longest retail megastretches parallel to I-85 stretching from roughly Jimmy Carter Blvd. or Beaver Ruin Road on the southern end and then going all the way through the Gwinnett Place area(Steve Reynolds Blvd and Pleasant Hill Road), the Discover Mills area about 3 exits north off Sugarloaf Parkway, and finally about 10 mins north of that at the Mall of Georgia Exit at I-85 and GA 20.

    Labelscar should make a Gwinnett trip, you’d be seeing a great mall in Gwinnett Place(and various strip malls around the area that are vintage 1984-1986), the Discover Mills area, and the Mall of GA area(vintage 1999-present). Interestingly all 3 malls have been able to succeed and are currently doing very well.

    So remember, it’s called the Duluth model because Gwinnett Place Mall is in Duluth, GA.

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  14. I’m getting tired of new concepts and new logos, they have to choose something soon and roll out a strategy nationwide. Sears, Sears Grand, Essentials, Big Kmart, Super Kmart, Kmart lime & green, Kmart orange, Sears Gwinnett…. a clean-up is needed.

    Target, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart are not changing their logos every 6 months and the majority of their stores have similar concepts depending on when they opened or were renovated. Nothing’s clear and focused at Sears-Kmart.

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  15. Doh! That’ll teach me to not fact-check really quickly. I blame the fact that I was covertly posting from work. :(

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  16. I don’t think Kmart needs to go but Kmart needs to shed it’s stores of Big Kmart vestiges signs and all.

    Sears is the one who needs the help they’ve got hundreds of concepts for crying out loud they need to pick one and IMPLEMENT IT!!!!!!

    So far this concept looks good and promising so I think it’s time they take it and implement it nationwide.

    Going back to the 50′s logo seems like a good idea to me, it’ll get rid of it’s cheap image.

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  17. There are probably thousands of vacant K-mart stores in the country which can perhaps be used for Sears expansion.

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  18. Ever since 2003, I believed Kmart to be a huge liability to Sears. They should’ve left them to drown. I was against the merger from the beginning because Kmart is yesteryear. Their stores are languishing, distressed, and tired – and not just by the standard of their exterior designs. They should’ve died with the Caldor and Bradlees era, which is exactly the era they’re stuck in. Ever been in a Kmart lately? Sad. And you can feel it.

    I hope Sears can improve it’s image. I think their original logo is classy and at least attempts to bring back the status and style the chain once had in the 60s. While we’re at it, JCPenney, who despite the interestingly eccentric 70-80s facades on most of it’s stores, *really* needs to seek a revitalization effort. I think they jumped shipped in mid-1980s. But that experimental era has evolved and it’s almost like they refuse to update their store facades from the 70s and/or change the bulbs on their exterior signs.

    Both stores have a great deal in common; they’re both still around, aging within lost time, degenerating in quality and status by drowning in mediocrity and being that, doing absolutely nothing to stand out or stay on the cutting edge.

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  19. Despite my earnest wishes for the otherwise, I have concerns that Sears is beating a dead horse to death. The return to that 50′s logo is symbolic…it represents how far down they have gone since that time and how the major reason they survive today is that they are respected because of that era. I may not buy any of their tacky clothes, but I would definitely still buy my washer and dryer from them…they earned that reputation for quality appliances from that era, and those years of respectibility and high-quality hardlines are the only thing they have left.

    I do not want to see Sears die, but I feel they lack vision and they are making a big mistake not maximizing their profit margins by selling off as many old Kmarts as they can. Sears needs to be a totally reinvented concept, and I love the return of the old logo…it was their best. However, if they can’t come up with a truly original idea that makes them stand out I don’t know how they can survive. Maybe a big upscaling is needed to compete with Macy’s. Maybe Sears should honestly reinvent the traditional department store concept like Boscov’s. Maybe Sears Grand stores should be two-level stores twice the size of a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

    It was ironic the other day looking at the splashy new exterior of Cumberland Mall with the dated 1973 Sears hanging on tragically on one side. In the renovation, only the very dated Macy’s in the former Rich’s and Sears remains while the rest of the mall looks nearly brand new. While that Sears store looks clean and nice on the inside, the fact is that every time I pass that store, I know in only five years it won’t be there anymore. I sure don’t see it flocked with customers, and their prices are enough to scare any value-oriented shopper away. It is that trying to be the low end at higher prices that is part of the problem.

    I wonder if that wouldn’t happen if Sears really had a plan that didn’t sound like everybody else’s. A lot of what is wrong is that everybody is weird these days and nobody really cares about helping competition, and there is no brand loyalty thanks to all the bankruptcies and mergers. There is no choice between Marshall Field’s or Donaldson’s. You can’t go to Sky City or Zayre if Wal-Mart doesn’t have it. It’s sad when Wal-Mart here is flocked while Super Target seems largely devoid of customers…yes Target. I shop at both and if Sears Grand opened in town, I’d shop there, too, but it’s obvious just from that example that people are just different these days and that convenience and saving money trumps good customer service, brand loyalty and a quality product (which Wal-Mart has neither of, and Target seems to lack on the first).

    Even stores are like political parties now it seems. How can we introduce a libertarian (sic) discount/department store concept in a country full of such idiocy? The sheer failure of Sears to come may be simply on this basis: there doesn’t seem to be any room for multiple competition anymore, and Sears is sitting on the fence. Unlike a person changing political affiliations, Sears can’t become Wal-Mart, Macy’s or Target and continue to be Sears, but it looks that standing alone is killing them anyway.

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  20. yes sears needs to find a concept and stick with it……i love the throwback logo and they need to do the same for kmart because kmart needs a makeover and i would love to see the old kmart logo with the red k and the blue letters come back…..and speaking of political i shop at kmart and wal-mart sucks

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  21. So Labelscar, will we be seeing a Gwinnett tour in the near future? I’m telling you it’d be worth it.

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  22. So are you guys following me? First you do a piece on my old stomping grounds at Six Flags Mall and then you go a bit forward to my not quite as old stomping grounds at Gwinnett Place. Are you going to be covering some aspect of North Point next?

    I have to wonder if Gwinnett Place is the wisest place to test market a store that’s supposed to attract a younger audience. Maybe back in 1990 it would’ve been a good idea but Gwinnett Place isn’t the mall it used to be. It has a lot of stiff competition all around it. Why not drop the pretense of being a “Sears outlet” and do this at Discover Mills where there is a wealth of young shoppers? Or even the mall in Athens which is quite old itself but gets a steady influx of college aged shoppers from the University of Georgia. Gwinnett Place isn’t dead by any means and I think it has carried itself more gracefully as it has aged than some other malls I’ve seen, but I just don’t see this being successful here.

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  23. Since I know I probably gave off the wrong impression to certain people about my opinion of the 1950s Sears logo(and sidestepping my rant about their 1990s one vs. their current uppercase/lowercase logo introduced 1-3 years back, lol), I actually wouldn’t mind if Sears did go back to using their 1950s logo on their stores. I’d just be curious to how much of an extent/degree Sears is considering doing this idea(whether it’d just only be done to their mall/neighborhood stores, or if they’d also impliment this on their other concept stores, i.e. Sears Grand, Sears Hardware, etc.).

    It’s just myself, I don’t think I’d seen their ’50s logo very much myself(or knew much about it), until I found several pics of it online a couple days ago. The major thing that finally made me aware of it was, of course, the entry I read here about this concept store. I figured the Malls of America blog would have some pics of it, and not surprisingly, they did! I guess the fact I’d seen what I think is their 1970s logo so much is why I’d overlooked thinking that Sears had this older logo before then! (silly me)

    I, of course though, stand by my opinion about their 1990s logo(vs. their 2000s logo), but more power to Sears if they really do decide to revert back to their 1950s logo in some form nationwide.

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  24. I’VE GOT IT!!!!

    return to the traditional department store format (bring back upscale, other departments like video games,carpeting furniture etc.)

    Give back that old familar feeling of Sears AND make all their stores 4 FLOORS!!!!!

    BEAT THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have a question when did Sears become boring? like when did they ditch the video game,toys,carpeting and other such departments and who was responsible for it? Because I think THAT was their big mistake!!!

    Remember if you can’t follow current trends MAKE your own trends that will stick and become the LEADER in the industry.

    Remember being so-called “cutting edge” doesn’t last in the long run, it gets superseeded by the next “newest thing”.

    http://www.amesfanclub.com/forum/viewthread.php?action=attachment&tid=17&pid=9578

    http://www.amesfanclub.com/forum/viewthread.php?action=attachment&tid=17&pid=9579

    Kmart needs a nationwide revititalization NOW!!!!!!! ALL THERE STORES (or the majority of the successful ones) needs a complete rehaul!!!!

    In this industry you either thrive or you die!!!

    Remember,Sears doesn’t completely own Kmart, Kmart was made a seperate investment under Sears Holding Corporation which is a company that owns the stocks of companies not the companies themselves.

    If I remember correctly there was a news story where Sears Holding was planning to invest in Home Depot,which does not mean Sears would own Home Depot as a a whole it means Sears Holding would invest in Home Depot.

    perhaps this will better illustrate what I mean:

    http://www.amesfanclub.com/forum/viewthread.php?action=attachment&tid=17&pid=26849

    Sears needs something that will last in the long run not something that would satisfy current short-lived fads.

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  25. Wow, we’ve created a monster! Ha!
    I didn’t know people had so many strong opinions about Sears. I admit, I don’t shop there much, perhaps an appliance or two. Going to the mall and fighting traffic, parking, and long lines isn’t plausible when I need a new screwdriver (I want to be in and out). Perhaps that plays a role in Sears wanting off-mall locations, which is the biggest travesty. Sometimes I feel every mall in America has a Sears and Penney’s. Nevertheless, I don’t think I’m likely to visit a Sears in an off-mall location (perhaps just for abandoning malls, I’m mad at them).
    The Kmart near where I live is now mini-Sears. They have a large appliance and tools section, as well as Martha Stewart. However, the latin-american pop music played at full volume makes it impossible to have a conversation with your shopping companion. The details are overlooked. For a hispanic disco, it works. For shopping, it’s annoying.
    Scott

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  26. Sears have been an intrical part of my life from what I witnessed Sears was in the past, a everything under one roof department store (remember when it had stationary,furniture,toys,and a video game section?) to a selected brand name merchandise store of today, it’s future is of great concern of mine.

    Heck, I remember witnessing the release of Sonic 3 for the Sega Genesis in Sears like it was yesterday (Back in 1993 it was a very BIG thing!)

    Back in the early 1990s Sears used to have a video game section in it they used to play demos with these video game demo machines and back then when Sega used to have it’s own game systems (and Nintendo was it’s competitor) they had these machines that you could play their latest games on. When no one was playing them it showed sample demos that played over and over again. Which. back in 1993 had Sonic 3 playing on it.

    The store I remember this in was the old Sears in the Naugatuck Valley Mall in Waterbury,CT which was filled with the 70′s or 80′s decor (was plain basically a red striped white wall all around). Both that store and the mall are completely gone but Sears is still around.

    Now me being a Connecticut resident who has witnessed the demise of several stores (Caldor,Ames,Bradlees,Service Merchandise,D&L,G.Fox,Nu-Stars,Grossman’s,etc.) I am deeply concerned about which store is going to go next and with this highly comepetitive market with newcomers such as Kohl’s,Macy’s,Target,and especially Wal*Mart another major store going down seems highly likely.

    Sears has always stayed throughout this states and nationwide changes and IF that store goes the reprocussions would be huge none the less. (imagine the Wards closing or the retiring of the Marshall Feilds name except ten times larger)

    Sears (or Sears Roebuck & Co. as originally was called) has been around in the U.S. since at least the 1800s it’s demise would mean the end of a long established company and also a huge loss to many malls and shopping areas, so no doubt many people are concerned about this store.

    I admit I’m not that old (I was born in 1987) but the Sears of the early 90′s is not the same Sears of today,even then things were different.

    Now the question is where is Sears heading in order to survive the onslaught of it’s newly expanding competitors? (they don’t own the hardware market anymore)

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  27. For example, Sears Canada sells toys, cosmetics, have a catalogue business and have video games in the catalogues… They sold the Auto Centers business, stopped selling bikes and have self-standing stores selling furniture, matresses and appliances. They even sold halloween candies and costumes along with a selection of back-to-school supplies in 2006. They now want to add computers in a near future…

    Sears Canada is run by Dene Rogers which has been named president by Ed Lampert himself. I feel like Sears Canada is loosing it’s mid-upscale rank in Canada with this “Kmart-style merchandise”. Remember that Sears Canada also sells the Martha Stewart lines. I think that the home and kitchen departments are larger in Canada (no kitchen and cookware products on grid shelf carts in small areas)

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  28. There is a Sears Grand near me (Cleveland OH area) that was converted from a Big Kmart and my feelings on it are mixed (but they are more positive than negative). Where this particular store is positioned, it’s a great location because there isn’t a department store or mall relatively close to it. My Father-in-law loves it because of the huge Craftsman and tools section. I also liked the large appliance section as well. As I stated on another forum, I beleive Sears Grand has potential, but this will ONLY work in select markets/areas. The company really must research the area throughly before placing a Sears Grand because if they just haphazardly start tossing these stores “just anywhere”, they will fail. I have read from several business sources who’ve checked out Sears Grand who were not overall impressed and said they need to continue to work on their prices to be remotely competitve and they MUST keep their inventory up-to-date and fresh. But overall, it’s a wait-n-see. I totally agree.

    As far as KMart, these stores still have potential — again, in specific areas. Kmart has to continue to place more quality into their stores and let the dollar stores get the cheap stuff. Alot of the stores need to be spruced up, as well. I also believe that Kmart should be researching their markets and find out what’s “missing” — or could be improved — that some of the neighborhing merchants aren’t doing or taking advantage of. The Kmart near me does pretty decently (although a WalMart just opened not that long ago), but it could be improved. If I walked into the Kmart near me with a notebook, I could definitely write down a few things that need improvement (clean up the store, improve customer service, upgrade some product lines and of course, price themselves more competitively).

    I also like the Sears going back to the script used in the example.

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  29. Off mall retail is nothing new to Sears. Their early urban stores (1920s-40s) typically were not in the dominant downtown area. Instead, they often were quite a distance away and often in areas that didn’t have much retail. In Cleveland, the long running East Side store was a mile from the Euclid- E105th retail hub, although a Kresge, a Fisher Foods supermarket and some other stores located near it. The store’s main neighbor was Cleveland Clinic hospital and it is now part of the Cleveland Playhouse. The Atlanta store was a mile from downtown in a light industrial district and was attached to the regional warehouse. A few of these very old stores are still in operation–the Six Corners, Lawrence Ave., and Stony Isalnd stores in Chicago and the downtownish store in Sanat Monica, CA (a beautiful art moderne piece of architecture).

    Sears built freestanding stores or stores in relatively small strips until well into the 60s. The downtown Nashville store was in an odd location in an industrial zone, well away from downtown. The Hastings Ranch store (which might even be from the 70s) does quite well in a strip mall straddling the Pasadena/Sierra Madre border in suburban LA. The Harlem Avenue store just outseide of Chicago is one of these.

    Sears also had hard goods stores until around 1980. Smaller versions of these were in secondary shopping areas of big cities, like the 5 Points area in NE Cleveland. Bigger versions, typically with auto centers were in large but not regional shopping complexes. The Shoregate & Great Northern stores in Cleveland were built as these units in the late 50s. The Great Northern store eventually grew into a full line store when the mall was upgraded in the late 70s. The harware, paint, and other concepts were really nothing they hadn’t done before.

    Sears may actually do just fine in off mall locations. The amangement needs to get over its need to emphasize higher margin soft lines, which have never been Sears’ strength.

    I wouldn’t get too excited over the Gwinnett store, because of Sears’ short attention span. The next Sears down I-85 toward Atlanta is at Northlake Mall. It was redone with a different prototype just a year ago. I recently visited the store at Richmond Mall outside of Cleveland. Although the third floor was closed off years ago, most of the store had changed little in since it opened in the mid-60s, until just now. Unfortunately, its very recent remodel seems to be based on yet another prototype. If one of tehse works, hopefully, they’ll have sense enough to roll it out, rather than just coming up with more prototypes.

    As for Gwinnett, it was where white flighters went in the 70s and 80s from DeKalb County and it was built for them and for people who get transferred every 3-5 years—treeless subdivisions and industrial parks all placed on condusingly laid out streets—the kind of place that makes Atlanta more of an emblem of poorly planned sprawl than more famous examples like LA. Now Gwinnett is getting Asian and Latino immigrants and the second generation, who either have been priced out of closer-in areas or now have the money for houses. It’s hardly a ghetto, but it isn’t the white bread place it once was and that white bread lack of character makes it easy for people to flee somewhere else. Sears often has done well in places that have no glamour or that have lost their white people. Two of the longest running Sears in LA are East of Hollywood and in East LA near the warehouse. Gwinnett Place will still be full of Sears shoppers even if the white folks vanish. It’s not a bad place to do a prototype.

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  30. I look at Southern Gwinnett as being the southern version of Markham, Ontario. Both areas were major WASP communities for their respective metro areas(Atlanta and Toronto) in the 70s and 80s, and with the GENTRIFIED immigrant population growth in the past 10 years you begin to see the community still remain safe and middle class but it’s more about the 2nd Generation immigrants. For those from Atlanta, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that Gwinnett Place and Jimmy Carter Blvd. in the present represent an outgrowth of the Buford Highway corridor. And in a way, the immigrant growth of Southern Gwinnett is helping to give the area character. In the same breathe, I believe that Northern Gwinnett(think anything above 316) has character too and I feel like in the coming years we’ll see that Gwinnett County as a whole will be a model for how various ethnicities and ppl can all come together and still remain a successful part of the greater region.

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  31. I drove by Gwinnett Place yesterday and was quite surprised to find they didn’t bother to change the exterior labels for their new Sears store. In fact, the exterior labels are still the mid-90′s labels without the red underline. Seems like $5 million could’ve included some outdoor signage. Do they plan on eventually changing the outdoors signs or are they so proud of their new prototype that they want to keep it a secret?

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  32. Just keep in mind that even into the mid 90s, Sears at Gwinnett was still using it’s early 80s plain logo on the building(since Gwinnett Place opened in 1984 and the Sears logo wasn’t changed over until about 1985-1986).

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  33. They should still install new outdoor signs to match up with the one at the mall entrance.

    Then again….this happened a lot back then too…plenty of mismatched logos. I’ve been to several Sears that were built in the late 1960s – 1971 where they would bear the old script logo outside, but would have their 70s/early 80s ‘SEARS’ (in all caps, in a font similar to (but not) a Times-New Roman style) ) above the interior mall entrance.

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  34. It’s interesting to think the Gwinnett Sears is in a way, doing what other Sears stores did during the 1970s(when they started to phase out the ’50s logo), just that it’s occurring in reverse(with the older ’50s logo being used on the interior, instead of the newer logo(which occurs most of the time), and not it being used on the exterior of the building).

    Course, I realize and everything that it’s only a prototype… (but a promising one that I think would work nationwide, not to mention I second what Matt said about the ’50s logo being used on the exterior)

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  35. Sears Grand replaced an exellent K-Mart in Westlake, Ohio; one in which I found affordable and lovely clothes and toys for my grandchildren. Useful kitchen and hardware. Office products cheaper than the franchise store across the street. In the spring, found very good garden plants and supplies. This store was remarkable for their helpful and pleasant employees. When Sears Grand opened, I found myself very disappointed and heard others were equally disappointed. It is does not even have a useful hardware department and their children’s department has very little to entice me.

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  36. I am a current Sears associate, and have been for a little over 2 years now. Many things are changing within the company- all I have to say is this- if you all are as passionate about Sears as you say you are- please patronize our stores!

    Unless you want to see Sears die within the next 10 years or less, we need your business. Prices are down on almost everything, but it is not helping… I don’t understand. Sears’ prices are VERY competitive on most items in the store! Not to mention the merchandise is of a higher quality than Wal-Mart’s Chinese Children made low-end merchandise.

    I say: Go Sears Grand. It is the only thing left that will save us.

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  37. Just saw these awesome pics posted of the Gwinnett Place prototype Sears store on the Ames Fan Club forum. They’re located around the middle of this page(and hopefully to god, they’ll finally impliment aspects of this prototype store in other Sears stores nationwide):

    http://www.amesfanclub.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=17&page=16

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  38. This is a nostalgic move for Sears…and a pretty cool one I must admit. I really like it…maybe because I remember the “Sears Town” concept when I was a child. All that aside, I only buy appliances and tools at Sears. The flourescent lighting on the “softer side” just plain sucks. I hate the Wal-Mart-like check outs…cheesy…cheap looking. I hope Sears is able to find itself again. Until the ambience of the softer side changes, I will not be visiting the Lands End collection nor any other clothing line.
    Love the new logo. Now do something about the rest of the store.

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  39. My Dad worked at Sears for his entire adult life, starting out as a floor salesperson in the paint department … and ended his career as a successful store manager before retiring in 1993. I’m a “Sears brat”, having transferred all over the place as he moved up the Sears ladder.

    Sears will always have a place in my heart. But I’m also frustrated — here is a store, one of the most — aw, hell, *THE* most omnipotent retail brand (Sears & Roebuck has been around a helluva lot longer than Wally World). They sit on two powerful brand names: Craftsman and Kenmore. Both have stood for quality, and Kenmore appliances never fail to earn high ratings in Consumer Reports. Historically, Sears represents American enterprise at its proudest.

    And what do they do? They over-research and over-”prototype” everything to death. Playing their Silvertone catalog fiddle while the other, less storied retailers eat into their market share. They’ve done away with most of their floor people — folks, who I have to say, knew their product lines. Today? It’s as if Sears is trying to emulate Best Buy. What’s next? Blue polo shirts?

    John’s post above breaks my heart. He’s right about Sears quality. The fault lays in store management and especially at the top.

    Now I’m no retail turnaround expert, however a little common sense (something Sears brass evidently lack today) would go a long way toward reversing the fortunes of the Sears brand.

    My solution? Take Sears back to what made it great in America. The ’50s logo – if applied universally and replaces the modified 1984 logo – is a wonderful start. The script font is classy. It’s classic Sears.

    Forget those who say people no longer want department stores which offer everything. Sears needs to go back to more freestanding locations. Lose the “Grand” — give America a real alternative to Wal-Mart. Lands’ End clothes. Craftsman tools. Kenmore appliances. Hell, revive the Silvertone brand for televisions, etc. Sears’ strength lays in its hardline items, while Wally World appliances, electronic items, et al, are – as John pointed out – cheaply-made sweatshop merchandise.

    America knows what Sears is, and – I have to hope – is waiting for it to wake up and reassert its place in our lives. Wal-Mart talks a good game on “patriotism” and flag-waving. But Sears walks the American success story. It walks patriotism. And their products are better.

    Freestanding stores. Everything. Even the candy kiosk in the center isle toward the front of the store, like in the old days. Sears is the only company that could make Wal-Mart nervous. And it’s high time they started doing just that.

    Oh, and Kmart? Kill it two hours ago. I have a place in my heart for Kmart, like many, however it’s damaged goods. Give the name a good burial, take the Sears flag and run with it.

    .02, and tome over.

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  40. Zayre88 mentioned Kmart’s short-lived green logo, and since I saw one over the weekend down in Peoria, I thought I’d post it for anyone who has never seen one:

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/218/519711136_1bbb4eb6aa_o.jpg

    Too bad the weather was crappy; I usually take better pictures but it was raining this day.

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  41. Helooo
    Why would Sears choose Gwinnett Place Mall to roll out its new logo? Gwinnett Place is a seedy slum-ish mall, at least compared to Northlake. Maybe if the Duluth concept flopped it would amount to nothing lost at GPM.

    I say ditch K-Mart and go with Sears Grand but don’t ape Target. Target is disappointing to those looking for the same items available at Wal-Mart. Just do a Wal-Mart that doesn’t cater to everyone from the bottom of society on up.

    I have a video on a dead mall called “Ill Mall Housto” if you want to visit Youtube. It is a Georgia mall which another mall, now dying, has killed.
    KT

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  42. Sears is like the IRS or the post office…..Worked corporately for 5 years at Hoffman Estates. Trust me….they don’t have a clue….and when they do get a clue….it’s gone in 5 minutes.

    Before there WAS a Sears Grand, I advocated a concept based on what you see in Gwinnett. A medium sized store based on the BRAND and heritage. I sat on the friggin’ committe that developed the nightmare that became Sears Grand.

    All the while I would say…..”it’s getting too big……who really wants to trek a 300K store”…..Kmart Target, and Walmart already do it better….?
    “where’s the popcorn machine….the candy counter….?” What if we got REALLY wild and make it ALL about SEARS???

    But no……we got “Sears…Eehhh-It’s Okay, But Not So Great”, and my other favorite……”Sears Not So Essential”. (Neither of which turn a profit btw)

    Too bad they seems to distracted to be themselves…..time for them to settle up and put the Macy’s or Walmart badge over the door…..or just turn the lights out…

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  43. I have a mall with a white capital Sears sign both inside and out. How rare is that?

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  44. To make Sears Sears again, first it should go back to an older logo. Maybe the ’62 logo. Then, downscale. Convert every Sears Grand into a Super Kmart, close down Sears Hardware, Appliance Dealer, Parts & Repair, The Great Indoors, and so on. Spin off Orchard Supply Hardware and keep Sears Outlet and Lands End. Keep Kmart Kmart. Add back departments in Sears again.

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  45. I like the classic Sears look. Too bad JC Penny’s does not go back to the classic Penny’s sign.

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  46. Well, at least while JCPenney has their logo still in that ugly box, if you look at their Fall/Winter ’07 catalog, they reverted the lettertype back to the way it looked when their Unimark logo was introduced in Fall 1971….thicker letters that is, and in no box to boot.

    That’s going back a ways at least.

    Most old Sears and Penney stores were not remodeled until the early 1990s, so it’ll be a while before we really see any sweeping changes to how they look now.

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  47. To my earlier comment, I really do like the ’80s logo, and one more thing: they should convert all the Big Kmarts to Super Kmarts or regular Kmarts.

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  48. here’s my two cents:

    Sears itself needs to upscale, BADLY. Sears today looks a lot like Wards in the 1990′s, changing with the winds and never sticking with any that may become successful. Sears needs to complete at JC Penneys level at the very least. Don’t compete directly with Nordstrom’s or Macy’s, they can’t. As for Wal-Mart and Target, reinvent the K-Mart brand. They can’t compete on price with Wal-Mart and their sweatshop made lead-laced products. Give K-Mart an identity and STAY with it. K-Mart needs to rehab or replace many of their stores (Bloomington IL is 5th in the chain and it looks like the roof has never replaced.) Use Sears for their more upscale locations and K-Mart for the big box supercenters, forget the rest of the nameplates.

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  49. Sears–>Keep the 80s logo, a skew higher than Kmart and competing with JCPenney and other mid-range traditional dept. stores. Keep it out of strip centers.

    Sears Grand –>Convert to Super Kmart.

    Kmart–>Like Chip said, it needs a rehab in brand name and needs shiny new stores. Make it a better competitor to Target and Wal-Mart. Should be in strip centers.

    Super Kmart–>Ramp up produce quality and make Wal-Mart Supercenters look like crap.

    Big Kmart–>Convert to Kmart.

    Sears Hardware–>Make it Orchard Supply Hardware.

    Sears Dealer Stores–>Keep it.

    Sears Outlet–>Keep.

    Sears Parts & Repair Center–>They’re fazing out these anyway.

    The Great Indoors–>Kill it.

    Lands End–>Keep.

    Orchard Supply Hardware–>Spin off.

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  50. Sears–>Keep the 80s logo.

    Nah, roll back and reinstate the old logos from the 50s-70s.

    Make Sears what it used to be. I’ve never seen or been to a Boscov’s, but from what I read about them on this blog (from users’ comments) and other places, they are a modern-day version of a department store in the truest sense of the term.

    Stores like Penney’s and Sears used to be like that until the 1980s, when they all went fashion-heavy and dumped hard goods (in Penneys’ case), trying to compete with more fashion-oriented department stores (most of which have all been ‘Macy-ated)

    Dump Sears Grand already…it’s a failed concept.

    I thought about K-mart the other day too. They should stick around, but they all need new stores. The ones that are only 15-20 years old could just use a simple remodel, but for the real old 60s-70s ones…..they got to go. Roll out the same color scheme and sign package to ALL stores.

    The current K-mart logo looks too much like Target to my eyes as well……too much red. Splash some blue back into the word ‘mart’….then we’re getting somewhere. Keep the letterstyle though…..it looks modern, yet old-styled at the same time.

    I think I said some of this in one of my earlier comments. My bad if I was being repetitious.

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  51. Yes, I definately agree with Matt’s ideas :)

    Now We’re talking!!!!

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  52. I like Matt and Jonah’s ideas a lot. I hope the people at Sears/Kmart read blogs like this. I dont’ think that Sears is as bad as Ward’s was in the late 90′s.. A recent walk through the newest Sears store in my town, it was opened in 1997 and has the same facade that I am pretty sure is still used on most new Sears stores, revealed to me to be a pretty decent department store. And the closest thing left to a true department store because of the full electronics, hardware line. They were lacking a bit in the homestore items, especially draperies and curtains, compared to JCPenney. The clothing department is not as cheap as you might think. They have taken Express Men’s former name, Structure, and have a line a men’s clothes line under the name. The clothes is not quite the same as the former Structure line, but it does somewhat have a style and hipness not expected in a Sears store. They also have the Land’s End, Covington and Levi’s lines too. I am not saying that something like a line of Structure clothes is the only thing that is going to save Sears. But it could be one small step in making a cool place to shop. Just a thought I wanted to add.

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  53. [...] It even brought back a nostalgic mall version of the store, detailed on the excellent website Labelscar. Worth a trip to Georgia to see, we say. [...]

  54. [...] It even brought back a nostalgic mall version of the store, detailed on the excellent website Labelscar. Worth a trip to Georgia to see, we say. [...]

  55. For all of you people that seem to think that Sears bought out Kmart: Check your facts. Sears didn’t buy Kmart, Kmart bought Sears. They are just using the Sears name because it’s better known and more respected than Kmart’s name is now.

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  56. I think sears should go with the 1950s logo. its a classic ,i resently saved the sinage off a sears service center building in lodi, NJ Its the large scripted Porcelane neon sign from the 50s ps. mabe sears could use it inside one of there stores for that retro1950 charm. just a thought.

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  57. Sears hardware of all types is its forte and always has been; this they need to keep. Because of their obsessive trend-chasing, they cannot focus on their heritage and legacy, building on their historic foundation. Sears missed a great opportunity to re-enter the manufactured housing market for rural and town homes in the 1990′s. American managers and labor with some imagination should study their old 1920′s-1960′s catalogs, visualize what is old is new again and needed, and begin to find ways to manufacture these items in the U.S., or serve as a co-op for small businesses that are already manufacturing such items. The next generation of cars could need horseshoes. Sears is a grand old dame. Very few businesses have the historic resources, includings signs, locations, and fixtures to resurrect and comfort worried Americans who are looking for quality, stability, and fortitude.

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  58. or to quote a 4chan meme WANT “drull” but really the logo sort of reminds me of the old sears town’s and they REALLY REALLY need to fix a lot of the sears store’s and for the love of all that’s holy get rid of k-mart, PLEASE, we REALLY need this kind of store in virginia very badly.

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  59. Here’s some ideas I have.

    1) Look at what some other mid-range stores have done…gotten their hands on mid-rang lines by otherwise upscale companies (Vera Wang at Kohl’s, Sephora and Ralph Lauren (American Living) at JCPenney). So, Sears needs to reinstate a furniture department with at least two lines: Something hip and modern like IKEA, and then have PotteryBarn, or the like, to create a line of furniture especially for Sears. Introduce new clothing lines by such designers as Tommy Hilfiger (even if it means lureing “Crest” away from Macy’s), Calvin Klein, and even Dolce & Gabbana (I know that’s a bit of a stretch). This will definitely give Sears a more fashion-foward look in the clothing sector. Also, they need to take some desigb cues from stores like Hollister, American Eagle, and H&M when it comes to clothes for teens and twenty-somethings, and create lines accordingly.

    2) Bring back the video game departments. With Wii’s and XBoxes being hot right now, Sears should make a killing.

    3) Change the logo to anything that looks better than what they have now. I personally would like to see something similar to the all caps sears logo of the 70′s and early 80′s. It looks more classy.

    4) Stick with the Gwinnett Place Concept. I’ve actually been in this store and it’s actually surprisingly really nice compared to other Sears stores. It’s easy on the eye and makes the store look up to date. It really does bring out that “softer side of Sears”.

    5) Get some kind of contract with Seattle’s Best to open up Coffee/Snack Bars at the mall entrances of select stores (ala Nordstrom’s E-bars and Starbucks inside Targets). It would actually be cool if they called it “Roebuck’s Coffee House”. I know that sounds too similar to Starbuck’s, but a name like Roebuck’s reminds you of another “large-coffee house chain”, but at the same time, it’s identity suggests something you’ll only find at Sears.

    6) Introduce a retooled home department that includes fine china and crystal items.

    7) “Targetize” Kmart. Make it look trendier and a more upscale retailer.

    8) Eliminate their “Home Improvement” services. People realize that Sears’ kitchen renovations are way too overpriced compared to Home Depot and Lowes, so people are going to get that from those stores instead.

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  60. Some other ideas I got just after posting.

    -A new slogan: “Sears: The Great American Department Store” or “Your Life. Your Sears.” Either those, or I wouldn’t mind seeing them bring back “There’s More For Your Life”

    -Introduce new shopping bags. Get rid of those wife-beater shaped bags and start using plastic bags with regular handles (ala the H&M bag) and Paper Shopping Bags.

    -Start selling Apple Products with “Apple Store at Sears”. I know that this is tie-in overkill here, but I think sears needs more than just Craftsman and Kenmore for brand recognition nowadays.

    -

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  61. I’m late seeing this mostly Sears-related topic, but I must say that I have fond memories of the stand-alone Sears store that used to be in Rome, GA. When we went shopping, we went to K-Mart and Sears, both in East/South Rome. While my parents shopped in the stand-alone Sears, I got to look around the TV and electronics departments. I still remember well the guy we bought our first 25 inch console TV from in November 1977. He was always nice and friendly to me when I was a kid and he was still working there in the mid 1980s when I went to that same store to try to buy a turntable cartridge. Sears sold several video game systems, all rebranded as some Sears brand, but they’d usually have at least 2 or 3 hooked up to TVs and working. I saw the development from the first primitive Pong games to the Atari 2600 and Intellivision at that store. Many of my clothes came from that store. I still have incredibly fond memories of the bright red silky shiny jogging suit I got there in September or October of 1982 that I wore for years afterwards. In summer of 1979, we bought a lot of new appliances there. Another memory — that Sears sold records at one point — something I first noticed in spring 1979. Those were the days that you could go many palces to buy the latest pop and country 45s and albums.

    When I go in the Sears that replaced that store at Mount Berry Square, and drive by the old store and see it used for something else, or empty, it makes me sad. The Sears at that mall is like any other Sears, except it’s a small, one-level store. Although it’s probably a good bit bigger than the old Sears, it doesn’t feel that way to me.

    Does anyone know when the stand-alone Sears in Rome, GA was originally built and opened? It was on 2nd Avenue south of downtown. I’d love to know.

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  62. Looks like Sears is trying another concept. 2 K-Marts in the Chicago area, including the one near Louis Joilet Mall, are turning into myGofer. This concept will combine online retailing with a storefront location. Lets see if this works. Doesn’t Circuit City already do that? (and look at its results)

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  63. myGofer? What the……

    -sigh-

    It will NOT work!

    To the clueless CEO at Sears Holdings Corp…..just stop already. Dump K-mart and bring its softlines into Sears stores…..you already have the hardlines down pat….now just strengthen the softlines side of the store. Turn those K-marts in towns that don’t have a Sears, or urban areas that still have a serviceable K-mart location that still does decent business, into Sears (dump the silly ‘Grand’ monkier), and just kill off K-mart already

    If only the economy were in a more positive light, I’d also take the time and remodel ALL stores, and make all the graphics and signage to all buildings the same.

    Probably easy for me to say being just an armchair retail analyst / mall geek, but that’s what “I” would do.

    K-mart, and this continuous merry-go-round of ‘store concepts’ and ‘prototypes’ is seriously hurting Sears as a whole.

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  64. I wish they would bring back the old Sears we used to know and love.

    Sears Mexico has everything! Lancome, Ralph Lauren (not only perfumes, clothes!) electronics, toys, even snack counters and hardware stores!

    Kmart is good…but not Sears good, they should revamp the entire Kmart store line into something nice, not dumpy.

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  65. I personally love the vintage Sears logo. It’s classy, something that Sears needs to start heading towards.

    I think it’s Kmart’s time to go. It’s been on life support for way too long. In fact, the Kmarts in my area are on the out — three Kmarts in the Pinellas County area are closing, in addition to a Sears Essentials (that used to be a Kmart) that closed several months ago. Kmart is synonymous with “dumpy”, an image that probably will never be shook off.

    Lately it seems that Kmart and Sears stores have been coming dangerously close to one another, particularly in the “softline” departments. The clothes are dumpy, even in the juniors lines. Sad to say, but Wal-Mart’s juniors and young adult’s clothes are more stylish than Sears’ nowadays. They have the hardware, appliances, etc. down. They have strong brands in Kenmore and Craftsman. Now they need to do the same thing for their clothing department.

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  66. Every time I’m at the Sears here at Quakerbridge Mall in Lawrenceville, NJ, there are no customers there. Maybe someone at the Auto Center but it’s just weird. I guess Wal-mart, Target, Marshalls, etc, etc, etc all nearby are killing it. Although the upper floor (appliances, games, electronics) usually has a few people there.

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  67. We could do one a week if we had enough team leaders for the various tasks, the organizers inform me. ,

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  68. Some here may have heard about Sears leasing 25% of its King of Prussia store to Dick’s Sporting Goods. This really saddens me, because Sears wouldn’t be giving up so much space in one of the biggest malls unless the chain was in serious trouble.

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