|From: Glenn Petersen||1/11/2019 9:46:17 AM|
|Whatever happens, Sears' legacy will endure, in everything from Sears (oops, Willis) Tower to WLS-AM |
Customers line up for the reopening event at a renovated Sears store, Oct. 4, 2018, at Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook. The stores' fate is uncertain but the retailer's legacy will endure. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)
For more than century, Sears has been a Chicago business icon and the place where America shopped, evolving from a mail order catalog to a department store chain anchoring malls across the country.
Now facing the possibility of liquidation — a bankruptcy judge is expected to decide the retailer’s fate in the coming weeks after Chairman Edward Lampert raised his bid to keep the company in business — Sears may soon be relegated to the history books.
Whether or not Sears survives, the company’s legacy is set to live on — especially in the Chicago area — in buildings, businesses and brands that may long outlast the stores themselves.
The former Sears Tower, now the Willis Tower, is seen in Chicago on Dec. 7, 2017. From 1973 until 1996 it was the tallest building in the world. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)
Willis (Sears) Tower:
There is no greater monument to the scale of Sears at its height than the 1,451-foot, 110-story tower it erected in Chicago. When Sears Tower opened in 1973, it was the world’s tallest building, a title it held until 1996. Sears occupied less than 20 percent of the distinctive tubular steel building at 233 S. Wacker Drive, but its name became synonymous with the iconic symbol of Chicago’s brawny skyline. The retailer left its namesake home in 1992, moving its corporate headquarters to a sprawling suburban campus in Hoffman Estates and selling the tower two years later. In 2009, the name of the building was changed to Willis Tower as part of the deal for the London-based insurance firm to lease office space there. But for many Chicagoans, the name change didn’t take, and the city’s tallest building will always be known as Sears Tower.
Allstate was founded during the depths of the Great Depression in 1931 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears, and it grew into an insurance giant. Its inaugural mission was to provide mail-order car insurance, with its name borrowed from a Sears product, the Allstate automobile tire. In 1993, Sears sold more than $2 billion worth of shares in Northbrook-based Allstate — then the largest initial public offering of a U.S. company — as part of its exit from the financial services business. Two years later, Sears completed the spinoff, selling its remaining stake in Allstate to Sears shareholders.
Discover Financial Services
Competing with Visa, Mastercard and American Express for space in consumers’ wallets, the Discover card launched nationally with a Super Bowl ad in January 1986.
Discover cards. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
The Discover card was initially part of Sears’ subsidiary Dean Witter Financial Services, a brokerage house the retailer bought in 1981. Sears spun off the subsidiary in 1993, and it merged with Morgan Stanley four years later. Riverwoods-based Discover Financial Services spun off as an independent publicly traded company in 2007.
Sears became a broadcasting pioneer when it launched WLS, one of the first Chicago radio stations, in 1924. The call letters stood for “World’s Largest Store,” a moniker Sears earned from its massive headquarters and mail-order plant in Chicago’s Homan Square neighborhood, where the radio studios were initially located. Catering to the rural customer base of the Sears catalog, early program offerings included “National Barn Dance,” which became a long-running staple on the station and an influential force in country music. Sears sold WLS to Prairie Farmer magazine in 1928, but the legacy call letters have endured through multiple owners and formats. Atlanta-based Cumulus Media is the station’s current owner.
A "Hollywood" Sears kit home is seen in Carlinville, Ill., on Jan. 24, 2007. Between the early 1900s and 1942, Sears sold thousands of kit homes. (Seth Perlman/AP)
Sears kit homes
While not nearly as imposing as its eponymous tower, Sears’ mail-order kit homes leave another architectural legacy dotting the landscape. Between the early 1900s and 1942, Sears sold thousands of the homes, which buyers ordered from a catalog and built themselves — with the help of a 75-page instructional manual, detailed blueprints and, if necessary, a hired construction professional of their choice. Models such as the Barrington, Lexington, Kismet and Solace cost several thousand dollars and arrived via rail car in several thousand pieces. Hundreds of completed Sears kit homes remain standing in the Chicago area.
Sears briefly re-entered the home sales market with the purchase of residential real estate firm Coldwell Banker in 1981, which it sold along with other nonretail assets in 1993.
While Sears has created a number of signature brands including Kenmore and DieHard, Craftsman tools have already found a new home. In 2017, Stanley Black & Decker bought the Craftsman brand from Sears for about $900 million in a deal that allowed both companies to make and sell their own tool lines under the same name. Sears purchased the Craftsman name for a reported $500 from a competing tool company, launching the brand in 1927.
Indiana forward Amanda Cahill goes up for a layup in the second half of the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates on March 4, 2015. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
Sears Centre Arena
The Sears Centre Arena, an 11,000-seat venue, opened in 2006 in the Hoffman Estates business park where the retailer built its corporate headquarters. The arena, built on the site of the former Poplar Creek Music Theater, was developed by Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. in partnership with Sears, which supplied 35 acres and paid $10 million for naming rights. Rock band Duran Duran christened the new indoor entertainment venue, which has since been home to everything from minor league hockey games to monster truck events. The NBA G League's Windy City Bulls are among the most prominent current tenants.
In October, Sears signed a $1.8 million, three-year extension that could keep its name on the arena through 2022, perhaps outlasting the retailer itself. Sears paid its most recent $600,000 annual installment, due in advance, in September. Hoffman Estates took over the Sears Centre in 2009.
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|From: Sr K||1/22/2019 12:04:30 AM|
|In the Washington Post|
The overlooked hero behind Sears’s success
By Stephanie Deutsch
January 21 at 1:07 PM
Stephanie Deutsch is the author of “You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South.”
Sears chairman Eddie Lampert’s ESL hedge fund staved off, at least temporarily, the company’s liquidation with a $5.2 billion bid at a bankruptcy auction last week in New York. Creditors of the former department store colossus are challenging the sale in court. The fate of the company’s 425 stores, and with it the jobs of 45,000 employees, is likely to be determined in early February.
Sears’s bankruptcy declaration in October prompted a wave of media coverage focusing on Sears’s mid-20th-century glory days and its roots in a mail-order watch business operated by Richard W. Sears with the help of watch repairer Alvah C. Roebuck. Often overlooked in those nostalgic chronicles was the man who bore much of the responsibility for building the company into a paragon of U.S. retailing. With Sears’s future hanging in the balance, this seems like a good moment to give Julius Rosenwald his due, not least because of how he put his Sears fortune to philanthropic use: partnering with African American communities across the segregated South to build schools.
Rosenwald was born in Springfield, Ill., in 1862 to German-Jewish immigrant parents.
He grew up working in the family’s clothing store, never finished high school and as a young man started a moderately successful business in Chicago manufacturing clothes. Sears, Roebuck and Co. owed him money for men’s suits in 1895, the year that Roebuck asked Sears to buy him out. Eventually, the opportunity to take an ownership stake in the company came Rosenwald’s way.
In Richard Sears’s heyday, it was said that he could “sell a breath of fresh air,” but he was more interested in promotional gimmicks than in ensuring customers’ orders were reliably and promptly filled. Rosenwald had worked behind store counters, where the offerings were limited, and he understood the hunger felt in small towns and in the countryside for the huge array of new products appearing with America’s late-19th-century manufacturing revolution. He emphasized efficiency, innovation and customer service, knowing that catalogue shopping was effective only if buyers received, in a reasonable amount of time, the clothing, seeds, tools, baby carriages and sewing machines they had ordered.
Working with a creative staff, Rosenwald initiated an ingenious system to open letters mechanically and to fill orders through a network of chutes and conveyor belts. When the growing company needed larger quarters, Rosenwald took the lead in finding land on Chicago’s West Side and commissioning an enormous facility that included a printing press for the catalogues that sat beside a railroad yard for speedier shipping. To finance the project, he turned to a friend from his days as an apprentice to his uncles in New York, Henry Goldman (then part of the young investment company Goldman Sachs), who suggested taking the company public. The initial public offering in 1906 , the first for a U.S. retailer, made millionaires of both Sears and Rosenwald. In 1908, Richard Sears retired; Rosenwald wasn’t done.
In his youth, Rosenwald had told a friend that his goal in life was to have an annual income of $15,000 — $5,000 to live on, $5,000 to save and $5,000 to give away. Now he had millions. Initially, he donated money to help Jewish organizations in Chicago and to aid victims of Russian pogroms. But in 1910, alarmed by a surge of racial violence in the United States, he began directing his philanthropy toward African Americans.
Around that time, he was invited by the famed African American educator and author Booker T. Washington to visit the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute that Washington had founded in Alabama. Rosenwald toured the school, joined the board and followed Washington’s suggestion that he donate money to assist six nearby rural African American communities in building schoolhouses.
From that beginning grew a program that, over the two decades before Rosenwald’s death in 1932, built more than 5,000 schoolhouses and related structures in 15 states across the South. A 2009 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago estimated that a one-third increase in completed schooling by African American students in the region was attributable to Rosenwald schools. The study also noted that “the Rosenwald program caused approximately 90,000 additional students to attend schools during the early 1930s.
The schools played such a vital role in the education of African American children before the end of legalized segregation that the collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington includes student desks and a potbellied stove from the Rosenwald-funded one-room Hope School in Pomaria, S.C.The civil rights lawyer Charles Morgan Jr. once observed that from Rosenwald schools “came the parents of the generation who marched and sang and risked their lives in the revolution for equal justice under the law.”
Though the company was rescued from liquidation this month, Sears’s impact on America faded long ago. But the person who was instrumental in building the business left a legacy that still echoes today.
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|To: Sr K who wrote (937)||1/27/2019 11:07:37 PM|
|From: Sr K|
|PBGC Challenges. |
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. says a $1.7 billion funding gap should sink Chairman Edward Lampert’s efforts to buy out the chain. It’s the latest and most influential creditor to oppose the sale.
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|From: Sr K||2/7/2019 11:37:30 AM|
|SHLDQ is +.07 to .64 after hitting .655.|
now .63, volume about 1.018M.
now vol is 1.050M with shares up to .64 again.
bid-asked is .6401 to .647
at 11:41 AM the volume is 1.104M
Lampert wins PBGC support for his bid.
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