Wednesday, January 11, 2017

1.11.17 Bee-otch of the Day: Eddie Lampert

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Name: Eddie Lampert
Age: 54
Occupation: chairman/CEO, Sears Holdings
Last Seen: ??
Bee-otched For: nailing in one more into the coffin

Last week, employees and shoppers of Sears, Kmart, Macy's and other retailers were all handed a belated Christmas gift: closed stores.

Macy's will be closing 68 stores, leaving 4,000 people out of work. Meanwhile, 108 Kmart and 42 Sears stores will be closing by April.

Here in Michigan, only one Sears store will be closing, and it's just down the road from me at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids. The 330,000-square foot store has been a part of Woodland since it opened in 1968. However, mall management is saying that the Sears property will be redeveloped as part of a $100 million makeover. They're not saying what will happen, though it's rumored that Davenport, IA-based retailer Von Maur will be one of the new tenants, along with Dick's Sporting Goods and The Container Store. However, everything's hush-hush since no contracts have been signed yet.

In an age of failing shopping malls loaded with empty storefronts, Woodland is anything but. There's only a few empty spaces at Woodland and parking is horrendous at times. I'll betcha that Woodland knew that Sears would be leaving, thus creating the plan to keep the nearly-50-year-old mall humming well into the 21st century.

But losing Sears will be no big loss, at least to me. The last time I walked into that store, I was looking for a pump for my air mattress. I walked into the hardware department and they directed me to the bedding department, all the way upstairs. Nuthin'. I looked in every nook and cranny, even getting screamed at by an associate who looked like she was Bosnian. Needless to say, I found a pump... IN THE HARDWARE DEPARTMENT WHERE I STARTED LOOKING. ASSHOLES.

While Woodland is prepping to re-do the Sears section of the mall, the company is also purging many Kmart stores as well. Here in Michigan, many locations will close including the one in Muskegon (all Kmarts in Grand Rapids are now closed; the nearest location is now in Hastings, about 25 miles south of town). The first-ever Kmart in Garden City near Detroit is closing and so is my childhood Kmart in Acme, just outside of Traverse City, which will retain its location at Cherryland Center. For old school rock fans in northern Michigan, the Kmart in Acme was built on sacred ground since northern Michigan's first rock music venue, the Tanz Haus once stood there. From the 1960s to the 80s, it was where mostly-unheard of bands played for the young people in the area. One artist made some early appearances at the Tanz; a man a few people remember named Bob Seger.

In the case of the Acme Kmart, they simply couldn't compete with the fairly-new Meijer down the road on M-72. As for the locally-owned Tom's Food Market next door, only time will tell if they will close. Since the Kmart's across from the Grand Traverse Resort, it should be a hot property.

The sad thing is that Sears and Kmart are simply what other faded retailers such as Montgomery Ward and A&P were to the 20th century. These places used to be quite popular. Hell, almost every town in America had an A&P at one time, but they became old fashioned and closed. The idiot in charge of the Sears Holdings, Eddie Lampert simply has his head waaaaaay up his ass. Employees have said for years that because of his constant cost-cutting the stores have become run-down and disorganized. With newer and hipper retailers like Meijer and Walmart building new stores all the time, it's a shame that I look at Kmart, which hasn't opened a new store since 2002. The company's growth has ended and its CEO has done nothing but cut off the legs to stop the cancer from spreading.

But, that's life. All I can say is that I'm happy that my old Kenmore vacuum cleaner croaked because I don't feel like going all the way to Rivertown Crossings just for vacuum bags.


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