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Brian Miller
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 1:59am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Did anyone ever have a Hills near them, if anyone remembers that store
chain?

*****

I remember the chain but I honestly don’t remember ever going in one.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 2:43am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

 Dave wrote:
I have an absurdly outsized reaction to the end of Sears - a big reason being that my dad was a huge believer in their appliances (Kenmore) and tools (Craftsman

We have a Kenmore washer ("heavy duty") and dryer that came with the house and the washer must be as old as I am. I never realised those was a Sears brand -- just that they were ancient and reliable. I had a local repair man come and look at the dryer a couple of years ago when it needed a tweak and he told me: never get rid of these.
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John Popa
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 3:44am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

We had Hills, first it was Gold Circle (if that was national) then Hills. The local space is now a Target, I think, which seems appropriate.

I worked at Sears in the late 90's, selling hardware. It was a fun college gig and the money was good (we got a small commission.) And the girls in the men's department were wonderful :)


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Matt Reed
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 12:06pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Like you guys, I have very fond memories of Sears.  It along with Woolworths and Montgomery Ward were the places my family shopped at most when I was a kid.  Now?  All dead or dying.  

I had so much nostalgia for the store that I actually went to one here in LA in 2017 to buy a refrigerator.  The Sears brand name “Kenmore” still had weight with me as a few years earlier we had bought our washer/dryer at the same location.  Walking in that store just five years ago was incredibly sad.  Made me think of the last times I was in a K-Mart (they had one in Big Bear for years after most had closed).  The clothes were dated.  The choices were slim.  The store looked like it hadn’t been updated in 30 years.  Very few customers for such a large footprint.  We bought the fridge and left.  That location closed two years later, in a pre pandemic 2019. 

The Kenmore brand isn’t really a brand at all as it’s always been slapped on units from other manufacturers, but the decline in that labeled product shows.  Although our fridge is fine, the ice maker broke two years after we got it and would cost roughly half the original cost of the fridge to replace.  The washer/dryer, however, have been workhorses.  They sold off Craftsman as well, a name in tools people used to trust.  So much staggering mismanagement for one of the grand old department stores that was better positioned than most to have weathered the changes of consumer buying habits.  Sad.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 12:40pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

In my hometown when I was a kid we had two classic Five-and-Dimes: McCrory's and Grant's. If I recall correctly, Grant's tried to distinguish itself as a "25¢ store"! Ah, for the days when you could buy something with a nickel...
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John Byrne
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 12:53pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Again, my first visit to MacDonalds—burger, fries, shake. And 35¢ change from my dollar.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 1:48pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Every once in a (rare) while as a tiny tot I'd be able to snag two bits from my parents and run off to Friedman's Stationery Store to buy a comicbook and a Bazooka Joe. (That was after the price increase from 15¢.)
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John Byrne
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 1:53pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

My first allowance was $1 per week. The first time I received it I trotted over to the United Cigar Store and bought six comics (12¢ each). My mother was horrified. She made me take four of them back.

I bought them again, one at a time, over the next week.

(I've wondered why our written language for money is structured as it is. Why is five dollars $5, but five cents is 5¢?)

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Michael Penn
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 2:08pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I had to sneak comicbooks past my father. He was outraged I'd ever waste a penny on them. When I finally got my first job as a kid, 10 years old, I made a whopping $5 per week. Well, I bought some comics and proudly walked into the house, finally not fearing my father's wrath. Ka-BOOM! He was even more angry that I wasted my own money on them! Back to sneaking...!

(I'm upset there's no longer a cents symbol on keyboards. As to the convention of placement, perhaps the American usage was influenced by English usage: £1 9s 6d?)

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John Byrne
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 2:13pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I'm upset there's no longer a cents symbol on keyboards.

••

On my keyboard various monetary symbols are options behind the $.

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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 2:28pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

 Peter Martin wrote:
...they were ancient and reliable [...] a local repair man [...] told me: never get rid of these.
 Matt Reed wrote:
The Kenmore brand isn’t really a brand at all as it’s always been slapped on units from other manufacturers, but the decline in that labeled product shows.

That's the story of the Sears decline in as succinctly put a nutshell as I can imagine. As Matt notes, Sears didn't manufacture the units but had such buying power that in many cases the Kenmore models from the same manufacturer were rated superior (my dad was also a Consumer Reports man) to the ones they released under their own name.  Because Sears knew quality and reliability were the brand.  

Sears weirdly innovated a lot of things over the years; ratchet wrenches were introduced by Craftsman, for example. And the things they simply rebranded and resold (such as the Atari VCS) were exactly as good as the brand product. This kind of power to have things manufactured directly for the retail chain still exists in stores like Lowes or Home Depot, but as their brand is cheap, the appliances you buy from them are fragile, underperforming things, and Americans now no longer expect reliable performance from the machines that create the infrastructure in their homes.

The hedge bro CEO who ran Sears into the ground either didn't recognize this about the brand or - much more likely - simply didn't give a shit.  There's a whole depressing saga about the financial sector's role in shoddifying (it's not a word but it should be) the American consumer and retail experience, but with Sears in particular it borders on tragicomic.  Sears was the sturdy barge upon which America's middle class floated for decades*, and the 1%'s disdain for the middle class simply couldn't understand the value in it.

*Sears used to sell entire homes for delivery back in the early part of the 20th century, and to this day those Sears Craftsman Homes are sturdy, desirable things. And they look like America.



Edited by Dave Kopperman on November 30 2022 at 2:31pm
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Doug Centers
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Posted: November 30 2022 at 4:59pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Speaking of brands, Sears also created All-State which they slapped on things like batteries and even cars. 

Which reminds me I'm still kicking myself for selling my shares of All-State Insurance off after they spun off of Sears ( anyone with company stock at that time got a % in All-State initial stock).
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