Sears’ likely demise marks the end of an era

January 13, 2019

This may be the week that will bring an end to Sears. And for me and millions of other, it could mean the end of an era.

Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert has made a new takeover bid of more than $5 billion for the company. It may significantly increase the likelihood the department store will be able to stay in business, saving hundreds of Sears stores and thousand of jobs.

Lampert’s revised offer will be assessed by Sears during a Jan. 14 bankruptcy auction. The company will consider whether the bid offers more value to creditors than a liquidation.

Bankruptcy auction. Possible liquidation. For those of us who have bought thousands of dollars of Sears “stuff” in our lifetimes because our parents before us bought thousands of dollars worth of “more stuff,” the idea that Sears is bankrupt is unimaginable.

The microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher and gas stove in our kitchen were all purchased at Sears. The gas dryer in the laundry room was purchased at Sears no more than two years ago. The automatic washer in the same room was given to us by our son 10 years ago when he moved from Huntington. Sears? I think so.

The room air conditioner in our dining room was a Sears product. My father and stepmother never owned an air conditioner. They purchased a Homart window fan that was placed in a living room window to circulate air throughout the whole house. It was another Sears purchase.

In the old days, Peyton Place was serviced by well water. It was pumped out of the ground by a Rube Goldberg-type piston pump. Not only was it purchased from Sears, all the parts of the pump were available at the local Sears store. And if my dad or I couldn’t figure out how to fix the “dang machine,” a Sears guy would come out and fix it.

Sears’ maintenance people have been to Peyton Place in the last couple of years to repair other Sears appliances. All of them who have been out here in the last four decades have been pleasant, knowledgeable and worth much more than what they charged.

Sears in downtown Huntington. Sears at 5th Avenue and 29th Street. Sears at the Huntington Mall. I remember them all.

I remember my late brother, Vernon Peyton, at all three locations. He worked for Sears for more than 30 years. He never worked for anyone else after graduating from Marshall College on the GI Bill.

When I announced his death earlier this year on Facebook, I can’t recall how many people told me they bought appliances from “Vern.”

The Sears catalog was a mainstay in our house, right there with the Bible on the living room table. And do you remember when Sears published a smaller toy catalog prior to the holidays? Did you cut pictures out of that catalog and send them to Santa? I did.

Sears may escape liquidation this week. The billions Lampert is willing to invest may save it, but only for a short time.

Amazon and other online stores will eventually shut it down as they have Toys R Us and Kmart.

Things change, not always for the best. And when Sears eventually dries up and is blown away by the internet winds?

So be it. Sometimes memories are more sweet than the events and places that created them.

Dave Peyton is on Facebook. His email address is davepeyton@comcast.net.

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