I just made possibly my last purchase at Sears.
It was too good a deal to pass up, but also kind of like picking meat off of a retail carcass. My wife and I bought a new refrigerator from the Sears at the mall in Rockford. That store, sadly, is closing.
It is simply depressing to walk into the store, one of many closing across the country as the former retail giant continues to spiral, probably into nothing but our memories and history books.
Yes, there are great deals to be had at the store right now. We saved a ton. But when I looked at employees, I simply saw people who will be losing their jobs. The man who helped us had been there 14 years.
Sears is just one of the many retailers that are struggling or are simply gone. Kmart? Bye. Toys R Us? Gone. Looking for a Radio Shack? Good luck. J.C. Penney? Disappearing quickly.
Sears is especially hard to take. It is such an American icon. Many of us have very fond memories of grabbing the Sears catalog before Christmas and staring at the pages filled with toys that we hoped to find under our tree that year.
We loved going to the store – a store that had pretty much everything. It was a place the entire family could go shopping and everyone could find something they wanted.
But Sears and many other stores are finding life a real struggle in the age of Internet shopping. Amazon is a monster that is eating local and national retail stores at an alarming rate.
Even the mall itself is in danger of becoming extinct. Remember how cool they were in the 70s, when they were still fairly new? Everyone loved going to the mall to shop, hang out and grab something generally terrible to eat.
Going to a mall these days can be depressing. It seems to be the same few stores clinging to a business model that is seemingly in its death throes.
Things change, of course. We aren’t going to dry good stores anymore, or the blacksmith. I completely understand that.
But these local stores mean two very important things: Local jobs and local taxes. Whine about taxes all you want, but when area retailers disappear, so will your decent roads, services and schools. I am very concerned about this. It is becoming more common for states to collect taxes on items purchased online, but are local taxes included?
Generally, I believe the answer to that is no.
And there is the jobs. Yes, our economy has been on the upswing now for years and unemployment is low. But many people are losing decent paying jobs with benefits to go to a minimum wage job with poor or no benefits.
And not to dive into the black hole that is a minimum wage discussion, but I will simply say the current federal minimum wage is sickeningly low. It is a national embarrassment.
So as stores go away, please remember that taxes and jobs go with them. And so does the vibrancy and soul of a community in many ways. Mom and pop stores have already given way to retailers like Walmart. Now the Walmart’s of the world are being choked out by beasts like Amazon.
Sure, the convenience is great. But at what cost?