One of the market fixtures of the nation’s economy has been Sears. Sadly, the company has been in a long, slow decline for the past two decades. Last month the company announced that it was considering selling off three of its classic assets: Craftsman brand tools, DieHard batteries, and Kenmore appliances.
That announcement puts in stark contrast the position from which Sears once ruled the marketplace. It reminds us of these essential business lessons:
- Anything can and will change.
- Most factors that affect business are unpredictable.
- Just because you are king of the hill one day never precludes sitting in the valley the next day.
If the Sears announcement does nothing more than prompt us to reflect upon the above truths, then we will all be further ahead for it. Business is tough enough already. Therefore, we must never forget these business lessons so that we can be better prepared for whatever the future brings.
Finally, I could not help but notice the thoughtful, almost poetic manner in which Lauren Coleman-Lochner summarizes the classic contrast between where Sears is today versus where Sears once was (“Searsly?” Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/6/16–6/12/16, pp. 14–15):
“Once upon a time, Sears was the Amazon.com and Walmart of U.S. merchandising. Customers could order just about anything for delivery—even a kit to build a 10-room colonial-style house—from the Sears catalog, a compendium of the American dream with a reach into the rural parts of the country that helped make Sears, Roebuck America’s largest merchant.” (p. 14)