In a bit of housekeeping news - special thanks to reader Dan for helping create a brand for this digest. I’ve struggled to succinctly convey my hope for it and talking it through (and the subsequent design work) was immensely helpful.
On to the news…
This week I have been engrossed in the news of Sears filing bankruptcy and closing a huge swath of their stores. This isn’t particularly interesting in the short-term, as Sears has been on the decline since promoting its ‘Softer Side’. The aspect of the story that captivates my mind goes back to its heyday - to the catalog days. Via History.com
Before There Was Amazon.com, There Was The Sears Catalog. Founded As A Mail-order Watch Company In The Late 19th Century, Sears, Roebuck & Company Made Its Name With Its Swollen, Jam-packed Catalogs That Advertised Everything From Underwear To Entire House Kits. Around The Holidays, Families Across The Country Would Circle Items In Its Legendary “Wish Book.”
Sears’ Retail Stores Spread Across The Country & Its Sales Stayed Strong Even During The Great Depression, As The Company Spawned Now-famous Brands Like Kenmore, Craftsman And Even Allstate Insurance.
With its phonebook sized Christmas catalog (expanding the depth of its “shelf space”) and state-of-the-art distribution infrastructure, they were once a powerful disrupter in retail.
Several years back, I had the opportunity to work with a client who was revitalizing the old Sears distribution hub in Atlanta, GA
. As a part of our work, we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility
before the revitalization began. It was nothing short of incredibly impressive. Sears’ was a behemoth. And understanding their power then
shines an even brighter light on their decline today
I am increasingly convinced that becoming an industry leader is the second hardest challenge for a brand. The hardest challenge is staying there.