The Escalator is off: A brand goodbye to Sears

There’s a terrific scene in the 1995 Brady Bunch Movie when father Mike Brady tells his family “Put on your Sunday best, kids. We’re going to Sears!” The titular family loads up the station wagon, all smiles and singing, to the local Sears, even taking a ride on the escalator.

Recalling that scene hit me a little bit like a gut punch earlier this year when I visited (for the last time) our local Sears which closed forever at the end of March. By this point, the store was pretty much gutted with not much left other than back office supplies, a few shelves and the ugliest of ugly clothes. I noticed, tellingly, the escalator to the second floor was roped off and shut down.

What brand lessons can banks and credit unions learn from Sears? Plenty.

  • There is no brand big enough to not fail. Up until 1989, Sears was the largest retailer in the United States (when it was passed by Walmart). Size is no indicator of brand invulnerability. In the relatively short 30 years since 1989, the fall of Sears is nothing less than steep.

 

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