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Sears To Convert Old Auto Centers Into National Chain of Data Centers 167

Posted by timothy
from the where's-roebuck-all-this-time? dept.
1sockchuck writes "Sears plans to convert dozens of Sears Auto Center stores into a national chain of server farms, saying it wants to be "the McDonald's or Starbucks of data centers." The strategy is an evolution of Sears Holdings' previously announced plan to turn old Sears and Kmart stores into IT centers. Instead, it will focus on the more than 700 Sears Auto Centers, which include many stand-alone cement buildings on mall perimeters. Ubiquity Critical Environments, the data center arm of Sears, will team with Schneider Electric to turn these sites into data centers. They'll use repeatable modular designs to add power and cooling infrastructure, targeting at least 23 smaller cities where there currently aren't many options for IT outsourcing."
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Sears To Convert Old Auto Centers Into National Chain of Data Centers

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  • by cpicon92 (1157705) <kristianpicon@gmail.com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:14PM (#45427716)

    I think it's commendable that Sears is trying something new instead of trying to sue its way out of irrelevancy. Whether or not it will work remains to be seen, though...

    • If the price were absolutely right, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:21PM (#45427774)

        They only take Discover though.

      • Seems like they sell it as a close but pricey for everything play.

      • by Dzimas (547818)

        If the price were absolutely right, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat.

        If their service reliability and scalability is well above industry averages and they have excellent backbone connectivity to their suburban mall parking lots, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat. But that's a long shot.

        • by icebike (68054)

          If their service reliability and scalability is well above industry averages and they have excellent backbone connectivity to their suburban mall parking lots, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat. But that's a long shot.

          Why would that be a long shot?

          This type of equipment, racks and blades and switches, is dirt-f'ing cheap right now. Malls already have big pipes, and if they aren't big enough getting bigger pipes isn't that hard.

          Most of these sears stores weren't in the Malls anyway, they were in the somewhat smaller strip malls.
          If they do it on a grand enough scale, it would make a good server farm, close to their commercial customers.

          I do worry about the name though... Ubiquity Critical Environments, = UCE (unsolicite

    • by immaterial (1520413) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @08:31PM (#45428449)
      It does make a lot of sense. Unlike their future-proof retail stores, automotive services are too easily purchased over the Internet nowadays. I mean seriously, who isn't buying oil changes on Amazon?
      • But seriously, folks, I did happen to buy an oil change on Amazon recently, through their "Amazon Local" service. But it was from a local Goodyear dealer, not from Sears Auto.

      • No, but small auto shops are consolidating. The internet, especially YouTube, has opened the door to amateur auto mechanics who wouldn't have learned otherwise. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the privately owned shops have become so inconsistent from shop to shop in honesty and competence that most people feel (are) safer taking it to the dealership. Again, communication enabled by the internet has increased the awareness of consumers that frequently the work the shop did was bs or overpriced.
        • by cusco (717999)

          Worked as a service writer for a while, and quite a few people would come in for an oil change at our shop even though we were almost twice the price of the quick-lube place down the road. The selling point was "Our mechanics weren't flipping burgers or cutting lawns last week."

    • I don't think it's about suing, I think it's about defrauding their investors (the whole bankruptcy BS).
      Some of their stores are in really really prime real estate locations. They can just sell 1 store at a time and remain profitable for at least 50 years.
      I don't know what their strategy is now...

    • I think it would be reasonable to assume that it could work. To go after under served markets like this, that is pure genius. Most of the cities that they will be targeting desperately need some kind of modern IT infrastructure for hire. I'm thinking of counties, school districts, and other municipal services tapping into this immediately. This also opens up markets for startups to migrate to, as well. Another thing to consider is that these small secondary market data centers can also serve as a showc

  • Or have malls been giving sweet deals to the big end cap stores? From a DC perspective if you can get servers inside metro Ethernet ranges that opens up a lot of consolidation opportunity to get servers out of closets and other non idea spaces.

    • With questionable bandwidth.

      A small server farm 10 miles away seams a bad compromise between local servers and a bigger data center.

    • by Animats (122034) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:58PM (#45428147) Homepage

      Or have malls been giving sweet deals to the big end cap stores?

      Many mall owners are desperate. No new enclosed mall has been built in the US in the last ten years. (American Dream Meadowlands [wikipedia.org] in New Jersey doesn't count; after two bankruptcies and a roof collapse, they're "on hold".) There are hundreds of dead malls [deadmalls.com] in the US. If you have a use for mall-type space that doesn't have to be near customers, there's plenty of space available.

      • by Megane (129182)
        Rackspace HQ is in a dead mall, [wikipedia.org] but they don't locate their servers there because of the power it would require. I think they were originally only in an expansion section of the mall (the Mervyn's building), but now occupy all of it. The northern half of the mall interior can be seen on Google street view.
      • by alexander_686 (957440) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @08:39PM (#45428513)

        There is another angle to this – the REIT tax exemption. Sears is cash poor but land rich.

        There is a quirk that Real Estate Investment Trusts don’t have to pay corporate tax if they pay out most of their profits. REITs included apartment and office buildings, public storage, warehouses, and maybe server farms. (IIRC Rackspace was trying to convert. I don’t know what become of that.)

        Sears is trying to figure out how to move it assets over. This could be a angle where they rent the building but outsource the server farms to their partners.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          When I was last at Rackspace in 2010, they had moved much of their operations to the part of the Windsor Park mall in San Antonio that used to house a Montgomery Ward's and looked to be progressing quite well. Despite the dread I had of moving there due to the terrible acoustics amongst a staff that was phone intensive, I thought it was a neat idea from an urban planning and community reinvestment perspective since much of the surrounding area was degrading economically with rising crime rates. I haven't

    • by msauve (701917)
      Sears generally owns the properties, it doesn't lease them.
    • by aergern (127031)

      Apparently the other articles were not read about the fact that Sears outright OWNS most of their space across the country. They are turning buildings they all ready own outright into data centers. And not just auto centers either but retail stores they've closed.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Sears probably owns a good number of KMarts as well. Sears Auto Centers is something I almost forgot about existing. The two old Sears/KMarts in my town stood vacant for years until a college took over one and Burlington Coat Factory took over the other one.

    • by n7ytd (230708)

      Or have malls been giving sweet deals to the big end cap stores? From a DC perspective if you can get servers inside metro Ethernet ranges that opens up a lot of consolidation opportunity to get servers out of closets and other non idea spaces.

      The article I read pointed out that many of the "end cap" stores are in 20- or 30-year leases. If the store has closed and you're on the hook for another 15 years, it makes sense to put something there. The same article mentioned that something like 85% of the population lives within 15 miles of at least one Sears store. If that's true, it would be quite and advantage for a distribution network.

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:20PM (#45427764) Homepage Journal

    "We at Sears hold substantial real estate with high retail value. So we're going to turn it into something that is best located where nobody else wants to go, since that's where taxes and traffic are lowest."

    Wait, what?

    • “We really want to be the McDonald’s or Starbucks of data centers,”

      Wait, what? Sounds like these people heard the word "Technology" and signed at the bottom line, no?

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by alexander_686 (957440) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @08:56PM (#45428653)

        McDonalds I can understand. Starbucks I can’t. Running a server farm is on the commodity end of the business. You are not looking to be fancy or cutting edge, you are looking to be reliable, low cost, and dull.

        Sears has gobs of real-estate coming out of its ears. This is one of the better ideas that I have heard. (Not saying it is a winner of an idea, just better than the other plans I have seen.)

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Old shopping malls are precisely where "nobody else wants to go".

      Since businesses cannot be interrupted long enough to replace aging malls, building new malls then closing the old is standard where land is reasonably priced. Malls are disposable.

  • But you need demand. Just because your bricks and mortar are in place in small centers it doesn't mean the demand is there. Still though if you've got the assets paid for and in place it's probably worth the try.
    • by mysidia (191772)

      Do they have a clue what they're getting into?

      They might have the real-estate... but where the heck are they gonna get the fiber built to these facilities, and electrical infrastructure required to run them reliably? Huge capital expenditures....

      Aren't all the small businesses moving into the cloud?

      Is there really an underserved niche for more server farms, all across the country?

      • I dunno and I don't think they do. My guess, based on retail management types I've known, is that they were just trying to come up with something that would fit in the space and seem innovative. Personally I don't see why they just don't turn them into lube & brake shops.
  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:23PM (#45427810)

    I used to buy a lot of stuff from Sears. My shed and garage look like an advertisement for Craftsman. Sadly Even their tools have dipped in quality since being bought out by KMart. I know a few people who were pissed that they received a "made in China" replacement tool for one that was "made in the USA". I'm not as hung up on that. But when the original tool lasted for several decades and the replacement a few months, there's a problem.

    The stores were dirty and disorganized the last time I was in one, which hasn't been for several months. In my area they also started closing at 7:00 or 8:00 pm, which has caused them to lose my business on several occasions. I'm not sure why anyone would trust their data in a place that they will never see when they can't even make the public areas of the store presentable. It's kind of sad to watch them die a slow death.

    • I work at Sears (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Disclaimer: I work at a Sears store (Well, while i'm finishing college, at least- I'll be an designer/engineer before long. )

      I read about this a few weeks ago in an investor press release. It's a nifty idea for sure, but I feel like they're shooting themselves in the foot a bit. There are a *lot* of people who seem to rely on those auto centers, and it definitely brings foot traffic into the stores. People seem to love buying a set of tires, getting a ridiculous amount of reward points back, and then spendi

      • Disclaimer: I work managing Data Centers.

        There is no way this will ever get off the ground, and is just a ridiculous idea for so many reasons, I can barely count. This is clearly some "genius" idea from some marketing person attached to the Corporate Real Estate group within Sears trying to drum up excitement to help them liquidate their properties.

        There is plenty of "big empty box" real estate all over the country that's vacant. There's nothing special about these auto centers, including the 16 fo
        • by Mabhatter (126906)

          I'd argue most of those malls ALREADY have many of those things.

          Many malls are pushing 50-75 shops, so that's a LOT of electric and telco already present as well as UPS/FedEx/USPS drop points.

          Malls are often near highways which is where most of the fibre got laid so it's easy to add.

          Many malls already have basic backup generators (plus natural gas and such already ran) in place for stores, not to data center standards, but in place.

          These shops aren't "that big" that they need major renovation into data cent

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Now that Craftsman have turned to shit, especially their ratchets, I have no use for Sears. There are plenty of other tool vendors.

      The K-martization of Sears is vile. I hope both companies crash and burn.

      • by Rick Zeman (15628)

        Now that Craftsman have turned to shit, especially their ratchets, I have no use for Sears. There are plenty of other tool vendors.

        The K-martization of Sears is vile. I hope both companies crash and burn.

        Yeah, once they turned the once-vaunted Craftsman tool line into run-of-the-mill cheap Chinese shit, it was game over. Luckily, there's still Snap On and SK. That being said, the last 3 appliances I got was from Sears.

  • While i think its pointless and will only hasten their demise, at least they are trying to save themselves.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      It seems to me that Sears and KMart have been taking turns going bankrupt since I was a kid.
      • by nurb432 (527695)

        I still remember when Sears ruled the retail world, and we looked forward to the xmas catalog each year.. Wwhen K-mart was still called Kresge, and we would go once in a while to the in-house food grill.. And Woolworth wasn't just a memory but an actual store...

        Different world today.

  • RIP sears (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It was over when kmart bought them. Instead of getting kmart prices and sears quality. We got kmart quality and sears prices.

  • I wouldn't trust Sears to run a vaccuum cleaner.

    Most of their internal systems are still green-screens, FFS!

    • >Most of their internal systems are still green-screens, FFS!
      So it probably works.

      The POS in my wife's yarn store is text mode (python+curses).
      It makes it a heck of a lot easier to maintain and you can log in from anything with ssh.

    • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:45PM (#45428011) Homepage Journal

      "Most of their internal systems are still green-screens
      and that's bad..why?
      Have a system that's custom, specific, easy to enter data, and doesn't change is a good thin for data entry.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        There are a number of problems with the Sears plan.

        1. With green screen apps in house, where is their experience running a non-mainframe data center to come from?
        2. They're setting up facilities in retail space, which is more expensive than most, which will drive up costs.
        3. The locations aren't already configured with high speed pipes, power, and cooling -- all of which is expensive as hell to add when you're dealing with retail facilities that have customers wandering all over the place for the other vendors
        4. Sea
        • by cusco (717999)

          Schneider Electric are specialists in the "high speed pipes, power and cooling", and apparently they see enough of an opportunity here to make it worthwhile to be partners in this enterprise. They already own the property, so that's not a concern. Key is going to be who they partner with to manage the data centers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What's wrong with the green screen? Costco uses iseries/as400 pretty heavily on the back end. I work at a hotel that uses an iSeries to run it's hotel system and came from another that ran mutiple hotels on it.

      Guess what? It just works. ZERO unplanned downtime. Can't say that about the windows and unix based systems like Micros and Opera.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Most of their internal systems are still green-screens, FFS!

      That's the sign of a good, lean company. It at least means they don't have clueless executives forcing IT to switch all their systems to the latest fads every few years. They save money over PCs in up-front costs, maintenance, power, etc.

      And the green-screens don't indicate the back-end is ancient... There are extremely capable terminal servers available that are just network connected SSH clients, which can connect to Amazon's "cloud" just as

  • The only bad things I heard about the Sears auto thingy was the prices. With Circuit City gone though, they would do a better installation job on aftermarket equipment like backup cameras and subwoofers than Best Buy. I would think their profits would have gone up after Circuit City closed. What the heck happened?
  • That's certainly thinking out of the Big Box.

  • So.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:46PM (#45428019)

    Will these Data-centers defraud their customers like the auto-centers did?

    http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/23/business/sears-auto-centers-halt-commissions-after-flap.html [nytimes.com]

    Sears has been dead to me for at least 15 years, and it's not due to their irrelevancy. They have destroyed the public's trust in them with very long series of scams and deceptions. Remember the craftsman lifetime unlimited warranty on tools? Try getting them to fulfill that now... they just tell you they don't make that part anymore and offer you a coupon for a new wrench. Fuck sears, they should have died in the 80s.

    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mspohr (589790) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:59PM (#45428149)

      Recently decided to buy something from Sears mail order.
      It was a total disaster. First, their web site wouldn't take my correct address leading to a 6AM call from the East coast warehouse to sort out the address. They then shipped a cheaper substitute part (different part number) and insisted it was just fine. Wouldn't take a return or ship a replacement. Finally protested the charge to my credit card and got a refund.
      Never again.
      Ironic that Sears can't even do mail order right these days.

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      As I remember, their catalog sales operation was a can't-lose lottery. You filled out an order, paid for it, then picked it up when it arrived. But what you PAID for was what you ORDERED, and their policy of hiring the cheapest possible people to pack boxes meant that was not necessarily what you GOT. You might order an ignition feeler gauge and get a drill press...and if the reverse happened, you could always return it.

      • Or, you might order a cheap drill press like I did a few months back, and never have anything show up at all. Fortunately it was a "ship-to-store" situation where I would have paid at the store, but after calling the store twice to see if it had arrived only to be told "it didn't come in with this week's restock, try next Thursday", I ended up buying a press elsewhere. To this date I still haven't received a phone call, e-mail, or any other communications from them. You'd think they'd have wanted a sever
  • by bobbied (2522392) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:50PM (#45428081)

    You need three things to set up a server farm (apart from the servers and people to manage it..)

    1. A Building with lots of floor space.... Yea, An ex-auto repair building could do for that. Check..

    2. Connectivity to the internet... Uh, going to have to spend money on that one.. NO check..

    3. Electrical power, backup power, cooling, security infrastructure? Uh on, we don't have that either... No Check... But you'd have to spend money of all this anyway.

    I don't think this will work out all that well for them. All they have is floor space that is likely pretty expensive if it is located near any major retail but it will be fixed in size. They won't be building new buildings here or expanding by adding more stories. They won't be saving any money doing the conversion from auto repair stalls to server racks because they'd have to do that anyplace else they wanted to set this up. What's going to kill them is the network infrastructure, unless they don't care about reliability and have SLA's for their service that matches. Getting redundant high bandwidth links to these buildings could be expensive, if they are not already near high speed network connections. Comparing their costs to their competitors, I just don't see this working out. Their competition will be working on much larger facilities, located much closer to network infrastructure with lower cost structures and less limitations on their building sizes. Sears may be getting the building for free, but their other setup and operating costs will be higher.

    About the only way this is going to pay, even marginally, is if they can use their unique locations to provide points of presence for services like Netflix or Amazon video to cache content locally or something along those lines. Other than that, I just don't see this working out.

    • by Tailhook (98486) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @08:15PM (#45428315)

      if they can use their unique locations to provide points of presence for services like Netflix or Amazon video to cache content locally or something along those lines.

      That is exactly what this is about. Netflix and Youtube are 50% of all US internet traffic [slashdot.org] now. These Sears properties are numerous and right in the middle of neighborhoods where the data consumers live. Network operators can offload huge amounts of peering traffic by caching bulk data close to clients.

      These properties are all near major roads in urban areas that can supply sufficient power and run fiber without much drama, but the fact is they don't need bullet-proof power or network service to stream bulk data; when a local cache drops out clients can be temporarily served by more distant servers.

      • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday November 14, 2013 @09:28PM (#45428861) Homepage

        You do realize that physical proximity != internet proximity?

        • by swillden (191260)

          You do realize that physical proximity != internet proximity?

          But lowering latency is very often all about getting physically closer. The protocols we use most require a few round trips to set everything up before they get going, so whatever lightspeed delays you have get multiplied significantly. And it gets really bad when you get a bit of congestion and drop a packet or three. Long tail (95th or 99th percentile) latencies are often two to three orders of magnitude greater than median latencies, so a millisecond or two can turn into serious sluggishness from time to

      • by mysidia (191772) on Friday November 15, 2013 @12:19AM (#45429781)

        These properties are all near major roads in urban areas that can supply sufficient power and run fiber without much drama, but the fact is they don't need bullet-proof power or network service to stream bulk data; when a local cache drops out clients can be temporarily served by more distant servers.

        Bulk caches like that don't need and can't really use an auto center worth of floor space though....

        They need perhaps 2 48U racks. With each of the major CDNs cache boxes taking approximately 6 to 8U of space.

        The application is too small; and I don't think anyone will pay them much for doing that.

        There's plenty of caching already available at service providers' facilities.

        End user's traffic still has to go all the way to their provider's facility, before going out to edge cache devicenodes...

        It's unlikely that Sears will offer residential ISPs such a great deal, that the ISPs close down their server rooms and move everything into Sears' auto centers.

    • CEOs like to follow the trends. "Cloud" is the buzzword? Here comes Sears Cloud! Bonus check, please!

      More seriously, the advantage of the Sears usually central location is the availability of a central office not too far, which means potentially lots of bandwidth without ginormous installation costs.

      The power side? Ya, that's gonna hurt.
      But if they succeed the can get a check from the mall for providing heat for everyone in winter!

    • by evilviper (135110)

      2. Connectivity to the internet... Uh, going to have to spend money on that one.. NO check..

      Malls seem to always be very centrally located. Right near the interchanges of major freeways/highways, not far from big population centers, etc. And furthermore, I'm betting any decent sized mall already has more than 128K DSL lines going in and out, what with companies so heavily automating their inventory systems and needing reliable internet service to do so. Give that, I have to assume getting a few OC lines

      • Indeed, many malls have moderately robust HVAC and power - think of all the incandescent lighting used in retail, esp since these structures were built pre-CFL/LED. Many also have basic power backup (generators) to power emergency lighting for egress. It may not be *enough* for full redundancy, but if the infrastructure is there it can be easier to upgrade than to install from scratch.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:53PM (#45428107)

    Jumped the shark.

  • by TheloniousToady (3343045) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @08:44PM (#45428549)

    It's been reported that the value of the real estate held by Sears Holdings is greater than the stock-market value of Sears Holdings itself. How can that be?

    I've wondered exactly how "valuable" a dead KMart or Sears store really is. After all, what else can you turn it into? The more successful big-box folks like Wal-Mart and Home Depot already have their own big boxes. Plus, KMart and Sears stores typically are in older locations that are in retail decline. For example, the Sears Auto that's closest to me is outside a large indoor mall that's nearly vacant. And the KMart across the street from it currently is in the process of closing.

    So what do you put in a retail location that nobody wants to shop at anymore? A data center, of course. Seems like an innovative idea.

    However, it remains to be seen whether this will work as a business concept. For example, I assume access to network infrastructure is important. But if it does work, it would "unlock" the value of Sears' real estate that otherwise has little value.

    Best of all, if a server rack ever needs to have its oil changed or its muffler replaced, it can be lifted at the touch of a button.

  • by acscott (1885598) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @08:44PM (#45428553)
    No, it's stupid. But here's what they should do: spin them off into 501(c) 3's and turn them into solar-based (and other) charging stations for electric autos. Use this to start a new brand. Gently and carefully test and enter the brand into your e-stores. Oh why is it stupid? I'm not sure. Probably better to turn those sites into Dr. Clinics, or blood-test labs. Get away from work to go to the Dr. and go shop!
    • by Artifakt (700173)

      Get away from work to go to the Dr. and go shop!

      That's going to be a problem. You see, most of these Sears that are closed were the last or near last stores in their malls to close. The little stores went out first, and the big anchor stores held on as the malls got emptier and emptier. So generally, there's little or no place around them for people to shop.

  • by swb (14022) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @09:48PM (#45428969)

    In some ways I think data centers have gotten out of hand and created a market for less intensive, more retail-friendly versions.

    I get that there's definitely a need for all the security and triple-redundancy that high end data centers provide. But I also think there's definitely a market for a less complex version that maybe doesn't have the kinds of security or redundancy that big operations have. Not zero redundancy or zero security, but a less involved version -- maybe less peering, less security, one generator instead of two, etc.

    I work in SMB consulting and there's a certain number of clients who host their own systems in house but could benefit from putting them in a data center, but who don't quite want to pay the costs asociated with the standard model of data center. What they need is a rack with reliable power and cooling and better internet connectivity than they can get from a DSL line + Cable.

    A "retail" data center might let them get their toes in the water and solve some short term problems without having to cross the Rubicon into "big time" datacenter use.

    The most apt comparison I can make is Snap Fitness vs. Lifetime Fitness. Lifetime has more and better equipment, trainers, a pool, tennis, etc. But some people just want to lift weights and run on a treadmill.

    • Data by definition and law requries security. Working out doesn't. Security and redundancy are expensive. Placing expensive equiptment and security measures in high traffic, high cost retail areas push up the price. Now it's not competitive.
  • I wonder if they will be any better at running data centers than they were at running auto centers.

    We used to take our cars to Sears to get the oil changed.
    Nothing complicated, just an oil change.

    I'd say they succeeded in changing the oil about two thirds of the time.
    But one third of the time, something would go off the rails, and we would go home without the oil change.
    Eventually, I gave up going there.
    Some time after that, they closed their auto centers.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:31PM (#45429497)

    Sad Really, Sears used to stand for something and unfortunately bad management and ineffective reaction to the marketplace has left them in the position of closing for good. I stopped shopping there permanently after a problem with an appliance, that had the service package and was still under warranty, wouldn't be serviced by them for weeks. They just couldn't get us an appointment. Much of what they sell you can get online from other vendors with better service and for better prices and that unfortunately will be the undoing of a lot of these chains so for me good riddance!

    • by m00sh (2538182)

      Sad Really, Sears used to stand for something and unfortunately bad management and ineffective reaction to the marketplace has left them in the position of closing for good. I stopped shopping there permanently after a problem with an appliance, that had the service package and was still under warranty, wouldn't be serviced by them for weeks. They just couldn't get us an appointment. Much of what they sell you can get online from other vendors with better service and for better prices and that unfortunately will be the undoing of a lot of these chains so for me good riddance!

      The only alternative for appliances are now Home Depot, Lowes or Best Buy. I doubt they are much better. There is no way any company is going to come running out to fix your appliance for a free warranty claim.

      Sears has as good a price or better as Amazon on many products. Nothing beats placing the order and picking it up 20 minutes later at a local Sears or Kmart.

      Amazon has gone heavily into data center business as well. It makes as much sense for Sears to do the same. Sears can attract the small local

    • by evilviper (135110)

      If anything, appliances (and perhaps tools) will be what keeps Sears around and kicking for years to come. Shipping prices will prevent the likes of Amazon from ever competing in that market. And the nature of appliances being a long-term investment, requires trust that cheap junk retailers like Walmart / Home Depot don't earn.

      Sears has earned a reputation for quality that Walmart and Home Depot can't match. When you go into a Sears and buy the cheapest refrigerator they've got, you can be pretty sure it

      • by n7ytd (230708)

        And the nature of appliances being a long-term investment, requires trust that cheap junk retailers like Walmart / Home Depot don't earn.

        Sears has earned a reputation for quality that Walmart and Home Depot can't match. When you go into a Sears and buy the cheapest refrigerator they've got, you can be pretty sure it's a decent piece of kit. With Walmart / Home Depot, you might be getting a complete piece of junk that is terribly misdesigned, and will fail shortly outside of the warranty.

        A big part of this is Sears' Kenmore brand being inexpensive while top-notch quality. So much so that I'm often able to find GOOD Kenmore appliances cheaper than the no-name worthless junk appliances ("GE" / "Magic Chef" / etc.), that Walmart / Home Depot stock. Whatever Sears' overhead and problems may be, they're still out-competing everyone in household appliances. And the Kenmore (and Craftsman) brand was one of the few big reasons K-Mart bought the company.

        Your experience has been different than mine.

        Sears had a reputation for quality, and while some people still see them as such, it's long been the case that "Kenmore" is just a private label on a white box made in the Maytag/Whirlpool factory.

        Just remember: K-Mart bought them. That's how weak they were after their bankruptcy. They've been betting big and surviving on their long history as America's super retailer but those days have passed, and they haven't kept up.

        I used to work for a consumer products co

    • by aztektum (170569)

      shut down the malls. turn the land into new neighborhoods, with apartments, coffee shops, gyms, parks, gardens, etc.. move the malls into automated warehouses outside the city were autonomous vehicles pick up packages for delivery to the neighborhoods homes and biz

      we may not be able to create flying cars, but we can still create some awesome shit. it's a shame we're held back by outdated ideas of what it means to be a valuable person (wage slave) in the servitude of the wealthy.

  • I will only consider using them if they promise to start a web series called "This Old Server Rack" with Bob Vila in which he takes old run down servers and makes them run like new. Come on Sears, you have got to have star power!
    • Well, pop up ads do seem to have made a come back since their initial trials were less than successful.

  • This maks sense since many of these sit on heavily polluted land and can only be sold off as brownfields. Now they can use the land and buildings that otherwise they'd have to pay to get rid of.

  • The real question is why are they closing those Sears Auto Repair shops? A lot of folks still use them. Are they going to get into a market that they're just trying out, becuase it's IN!!!, and dropping one that works?

    Y'know, like having a niche market, and then pissing off that niche by trying to appeal to a different niche which ain't interested, like the skiffy, er, sci-fi, um, syfy channel?

    mark "their B movies ain't even fun anymore"

  • Automotive repair is in itself a lucrative business. The problem with Sears is they have been caught cheating people too many times. They were caught charging people for lift time (1 mechanic, 8 lifts each with a car in the air, and all being charged for wrench time by the hour), selling returned batteries, even after being caught by 60 minutes a couple of times - and just horribly corrupt practices across many stores. These ultimately caused Sears to exit the automotive business after several class acti

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