Sears has been an institution in Canada — and probably the U.S. as well — for as long as I can remember.
I started shopping at Sears (formerly Simpsons-Sears) in my early 20s, and pretty much bought all my major appliances there as well as living-room furniture, paint and stain for my house, clothes, you name it. I even used to take my car into the Sears garage to be serviced.
Sears promised quality and good service along with it, and they provided that. The reinforced foam mattress I bought for my queen-sized bed still feels like new more than three decades later, as does the beautiful sofa I bought in the same era.
I could go on and on about the great products I bought at Sears over the years, but those years wouldn’t include the last, say, eight. Something went horribly wrong in the corporate management decision-making process and strategy, and they started shedding products and services — and profits gave way to losses.
Last week, Sears Canada filed for bankruptcy protection and says it will lay off almost 3,000 people and close some 59 stores in a bid to stay afloat. It reportedly has 17,000 employees in May, 10,500 of them being part-time workers. The company plans to emerge from this and rebuild itself.
Of course, seeing workers laid off is always saddening, but one can understand struggling companies having to take that step — as opposed to fat-cat companies like BCE laying people off just to further boost their already obscene profits.
But I would have to think twice about shopping at Sears again — and I do still shop there once in a while for clothes — if the company doesn’t give its laid-off employees severance pay, which some media outlets are saying is a strong possibility. On principle, I don’t think I could in good conscience continue to shop at their surviving outlets.
Severance pay for laid-off workers should come first. No employee should be thrown into the street with nothing because upper management mismanaged things.
So, I for one will never shop at Sears again if they cast off employees without giving them some severance pay. And I’m betting others will feel the same way.
Photo: The Sears store in Fairview Mall, Toronto, one of the stores acquired from Simpsons in 1991. (Wikipedia)