The Big Store: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
In 1972, Sears, Roebuck, and Co. was America's greatest store, accounting for over 1 percent of the gross national product. Suddenly, profits plummeted and the stock price collapsed. Sears was at civil war and in need of a new leader. In 1978, Edward R. Telling became the Sears chairman, and by 1984 Sears was back on top, bigger than ever. Telling turned things around so dramatically it seemed like a miracle. But the resurrection of Sears as a great American merchant was no miracle, but the result of the power, vision, and will of strong leadership.
Award-winning author Donald Katz, who received unprecedented and unrestricted access to Sears's records, meetings, and executives, delivers a spellbinding account that gives you a front-row seat to a corporate revolution. Katz is the founder and CEO of Audible, the leading provider of spoken audio information and entertainment.
This edition includes an updated introduction written and narrated by the author.
|Listening Length||30 hours and 4 minutes|
|Narrator||Brian Sutherland, Donald Katz - introduction|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||16 December 2018|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #374 Free in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
2 in Business & Careers
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I worked at Sears part time in college selling appliances, televisions, cellular phones, computers, etc. in the early 90s and loved hearing all the old timers talk about the good old days. Crazy and funny stories like those in this book...Those crazy old folks all had Chicago on speed dial complaining about everything management did twice a day. If the store manager changed the appliance display in a way the team did not like the old sales people called and complained. When it was changed back...they called and complained that it changed again! On the one hand it was incredibly dysfunctional and seemed like a 1960s timewarp. On the other hand I never worked anywhere that worked as hard for the customer as that Sears store. We had spare parts for items we had not sold in 30 years in our store so you could keep using your old item. If we did not have it, we could order it and have it in a few weeks at a very reasonable price. Good luck finding that at Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-Mart etc. We also spent a lot of time and money training people. We actually had tests to take before we were allowed to sell items. You got fired if you lied to customers or oversold them things they did not need. Just my .02 but I think time passed Sears by and American values changed. I miss Sears they way it was but I think most Americans today prefer Amazon and throwing things away when they break rather than fixing them.
Great read if you were an employee or customer from that era or like retail. It is also interesting given the current collapse of Sears opening up all of that cavernous mall space.
The author does a great job in describing Sears at its inception. Then along came General Wood and the company's interest into the retail end of the business. World War II and the return of so many veterans and pent up demand thrust Sears into becoming the largest and most successful retailer on the face of the earth. Then in the late 1960's and mid 1970's, the corporation lost its way. Sears lost sight of its target customer and failed to recognize the changing and emerging competitors that the US was experiencing. It turned a blind eye to many new competitors. And as Sears began to generate less and less profit, it had to begin shedding generations of life long employees. Chairman of the Board, (rather bored in many instances) Ed Telling brought in Ed Brennan to completely revamp and save the sinking retail ship, while Telling diversified and looked for new income streams. The historical catalog operation was jettisoned as well as territories and groups where the true kings lived and ruled and the power rested in the company for so many generations.
Brennan changed the entire culture of the retail company. With the advent of The Store of The Future, transition from a decentralized to a centralized organizations and forced retirements of the old guard who were simply too old, too tired and unwilling to make the change to Brennan's way of doing things The company began to show signs of revitalization. The stories about the old guard, especially Joe Moran, are touching and so relevant as to what was so right for generations and then turned wrong as the marketplace changed. An inability to recognize the changing marketplaces doomed the giant retailer. Fifty years earlier and the company might have had enough money and competent personnel to make the necessary changes and survive.
The times had changed. New competition was forcing the giant to react. And when Sears finally got the message, it was too late. As good a merchant as Sears thought it was, as the times changed the leadership failed to change. And the great ship started to take on water until it was past the point of no return.
For those with a retail background, read this book. It's a fine example on "what not to do" in order to right the ship. When Telling put Ed Brennan in charge of saving the retail end of the business, he made the only logical move whether he knew it at the time or not. Brennan was a savior and he led the troops out of the darkness into the 21st Century. Unfortunately it was too little too late. Had Brennan taken the reins possibly 10 years earlier, the outcome might have been much different. And I highly recommend this book to all Sears employees, past as well as current.
But alas, thus passes the glory of Sears. A sad story of too little too late. The Big Store failed to recognize and adapt. Leadership was too well entrenched in the old way of doing things. It drowned in its own success and excesses. And then it died a painful and yet avoidable death. Leadership failed the entire organization and every one paid the price. The old Sears took its last breath and the new store of today doesn't have much of a future ..
All business is cyclical and even more importantly local.If you don't adjust to the times dictated by the competition and customer demand, you will soon become lost as Sears did. By its sheer size, Sears will hang around for a little longer. But it is slowly sinking into the sunset the same as Wards, Woolworth and other significant merchants of days gone buy.
Should you read this book? Depends on the amount of time you have invested in retail and specifically with Sears. Can you imagine the strength of the catalog had it hung on long enough to become a part of todays e-commerce. And would retail ride the shirt tail of a new and reinvigorated catalog which was our basic DNA and 1st generation Richard Sears. You be the judge. I have cast my vote. Say goodbye to a once dominant organization that fell by the wayside not because field and parent fought, but because the company failed to adjust to the ever changing market place. The Wal-Marts and Lowes and Home Depots and large specialty stores snuck up on the monster and ate its popcorn. The old regime thought that Sears was too large to fail while the competition, retirees and general public rejected Sears marketing plan in droves. Was Sears really too big to fail or too arrogant to consider ever failing? If this question and its answer tweaks you interest, then read the book. You won't be disappointed. And the greatest contributor to the fall of Sears was one Ed Telling. Through his lack of positive leadership and ability to team build, he sent Sears on a downward Spiral never to recover to its once glorious days.
I cannot believe the access and dedication of the author in turning this out. Loved it. A cautionary tale for today...is right here.
I worked for Sears 15 years, Using their wonderful Profit_Sharing program, I started my own company and made a comfortable retirement fund. Reading the book, made me sad, IT was such a beautiful company!