17 October 2018
So Long, Sears, and So Much More
I guess it's been a long time since it was Sears-Roebuck and I will admit, even longer since I bought anything from this giant retailer. My relationship with them has been through Land's End during the past 20 years or so and then, even that has dwindled.
It hasn't always been this way. Growing up, my family was not typical but we thought we were pretty normal and without Sears-Roebuck we might have been naked. OK, don't tell my mom I said that. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we were a US Navy Sea Bee family and moved a lot. We also did not have a lot of money. Military personnel were not paid very well in those days but none of us knew that. As a family of four with one income, we did just fine. Our mother was made for military life and could stretch pennies like nobody I've ever seen. Sears-Roebuck was her kind of store.
She had the ability to take whatever my dad's allotment was and make it work. It could be said that my mom was stubborn and proud but I would never be caught saying something like that. That's a Garriott family issue.
As my brother and I grew up part of the magic of making ends meet was Sears-Roebuck. They had a credit plan but my mom was tougher than that. The only times I remember orders and packages from Sears being a big part of our lives were back to school and sometimes, Christmas. My mother loved Christmas and still does. She especially loves packages in the mail. I inherited this trait from her. We'll just call it the Sears Gene. I get as excited about packages containing medications as I do about new t-shirts.
For the more basic back to school times, she allowed my brother and I a certain amount of imaginary money. We set upon the Sears-Roebuck catalog to write our own orders. This process could take days of writing, page turning, note taking, adding and subtracting. We knew that none of this was real. The real part was underwear, socks, jeans, shoes and other basics. The trick here was that Mom was in charge of the final process of order placing. Sometimes one of those things you REALLY wanted might show up in that brown paper package which meant school had arrived.
Later in life, I was a Sears-Roebuck fan because I had always been one. I wouldn't have thought of having a lawnmower that wasn't a Craftsman, or an appliance that wasn't a Kenmore. Sears is as Sears does. It was part of my life by then. My kids wore clothing from Sears and I will admit to stretching my husband's credit card further than my mom ever did. Why? Sears did not allow married women to have accounts of their own. This became the end of our relationship. The first company to offer me credit in my own name was Les Schwab Tire Co. They will have my loyalty forever.
When Mr. S and I moved to Dallas, we bought Grandma Guy's house, which we were told was a kit home brought in on the railroad and assembled so that Grandma could live right next door to the big house she had raised her family in with her husband. Guy's Hardware was a staple in Dallas and we were happy to share a part of their legacy. We believe and were told that it was a true Sears-Roebuck Craftsman. It was insulated with dirt. We'll discuss how the installation of a dishwasher revealed this fact sometime in the future. I'm still not recovered.
I can't imagine ordering a house from Amazon.com but I know in my heart it can be done. For some reason it just doesn't seem the same. I miss the catalogs. I miss the ability to go page after page on my own time in my comfortable chair. I miss the lovely soft feeling of those thin pages. I miss the process of filling out an order form with a pencil or pen. I miss so many parts of my life. I bet you do too but we've moved on. We live in the Amazon world now.
Sears played an important role in my life. You could also say that I grieve the passing of that corporation which is so much changed by now. I am afraid that we will lose all of JC Penney like we lost Montgomery Ward. I remember the haunting photos of the Montgomery Ward building in Portland, gone empty. All of these companies were part of our lives. Aren't we the lucky ones to remember that?