I read today Sears is closing its last large mall store. The Woodfield Mall store in Schaumburg, Illinois, was a beautiful and successful store in its day, but that day has come and gone.
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Sears was founded as a catalog operation in 1886 and didn’t open its first store until 39 years later. Now some 96 years after that opening, it’s giving up the ghost. Many believe, as I do, that Sears could have been and should have been what has become Amazon.com.
I spent most of my career working for Sears. I loved working for the company and was proud to be known as a Sears man. So, I’ll write about a few of the good memories I still carry with me as a sort of celebration of life.
Things I fondly remember:
It may sound silly, but I remember how dog-tired I was each year after the holiday season and annual store inventory was over. From Nov. 1 until the end of December, we worked long days to make sure our department, our store or our region would have a great outcome. Then, it took all January to inventory the stores and calculate how the year turned out. No matter how tired we were, if the numbers were favorable, it was a good tired.
Another questionable memory was of being paged in a store to settle a customer disagreement. I remember it fondly because the approach was to ask the customer, “What do you want Sears to do?” Then we did it. I remember thinking as my bell would ring over the PA system. ... Another customer to satisfy, and I did.
I remember my first day approaching the Sears Tower. I admit that I was proud of myself. I remember two thoughts. First, I must be important to work in such a grand building. Secondly, I’ll not try to walk to work again from my Michigan Avenue apartment. It’s way too cold in this windy city.
I was only once asked to do anything I thought was morally wrong. The company was dedicated to honesty and ethical behavior. On the one occasion, I was ordered to change a policy. I viewed the ordered change to be unethical. I told my wife that my refusal might cause me to be fired. As the request came to light, the person who gave the unethical order was fired. We made mistakes, but the company always tried to do what was right.
I remember many bosses who took the time to become mentors. I learned from them and became a more effective person because of their mentoring. I mention a few here: Travis, Blair, Everett, Larry and Eric, thank you for caring about me.
The fondest memory I have is of the many people with whom I worked. In my time in stores, a region and finally at the home office, I was surrounded by wonderful people who worked hard, demonstrated great pride in doing their jobs and were good friends. The sad part of the demise of this once great company is the 300,000 jobs lost.
Not too long ago, I talked to a young man on the phone who was providing customer service for Duluth Trading. He did an exceptional job and I commended him. His response made the day of this old guy. He said, “No problem, Mr. Rohrer, I just do what you taught us at Sears Telecatalog.”
Sears, thanks for the memories.
Jim Rohrer of Evergreen is a business consultant and author of the books “Improve Your Bottom Line … Develop MVPs Today” and “Never Lose Your Job … Become a More Valuable Player.” Jim’s belief is that common sense is becoming less common. More about Jim at www.theloyaltypartners.com.
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