Despite embracing Facebook, Twitter and other new technologies, Sears took a pummeling today from the Wall Street Journal, which said some of the retailer’s stores are “dumpy” and quoted a customer saying one story was so empty, “we could have played Frisbee in there.” It’s a sad portrayal of the 125-year-old chain because some of its venerable brands—Kenmore, Craftsman—have stood the test of time in Consumer Reports tests.
Take Kenmore, for example. Our recommended list of Kenmore appliances includes six refrigerators; four dishwashers; three ranges; eight dryers; five washing machines and four gas grills. The Kenmore Intuition is our top-rated vacuum and we recommend three others. Then there’s Craftsman tools and gear. In the Craftsman line, we’ve recommended five lawn mowers; two cordless drills; one leaf blower and one snow blower. All-in-all, that’s a pretty good showing.
As we reported before, Sears has begun selling some Craftsman products at Costco and Ace Hardware and has hinted that its Kenmore brand may show up in other outlets. But a former Sears executive told the Wall Street Journal he was skeptical of that strategy. “This plan to farm out the brands does nothing but accelerate the decline of the stores,” said Mark Cohen, a former Sears Canada CEO. If only Sears could get its one million Facebook fans into the stores.
—Mary H.J. Farrell