What not to say to Sears employees

A little advice on what not to say to Sears Canada employees when you visit the death throes sales of the old girl over the coming weeks.

Do not ask them if they’ve been screwed in their pensions.

They will only tell you that they’ll be fine, thank you. Will your purchase be on debit?

Do not regale them with stories of your memories.

They don’t care that your first washer was a Kenmore or that you once held a summer job there. Nor do they care that it wasn’t Christmas for you until the Wish Book arrived or that your husband swore by Craftsman tools.

Do not ask them if they’ll be okay or how long they’ve got.

Their employer is dying, not them. They don’t want your sympathy; they just want to know whether you’ll be paying in cash.

I made like I was a regular Sears shopper – and not one of the millions of lapsed customers who used the store to access the mall – and paid a pre-liquidation visit last week. While standing in line with sheets and a bra – kicking myself for not being more Sears loyal, because both cost less than at the competition – I could see the staff is already sick to the teeth with sympathy.

Service was slow, not because of staff, but because every single customer had a question or a story. Sears figures into the Canadian drama of us all, whether we lived in a city and shopped Sears like we once shopped Woodwards and Eatons or whether we lived in rural communities and Sears catalogues allowed us to access the goods we couldn’t get at home.

For me growing up in tiny town Vancouver Island, the day the Wish Book hit the front step was when dreams began. I would take possession of it; inhale the Christmas smell of ink on the glossy pages of the toy section that went on and on. If Tiny Tears, Betsy Wetsy and my Mickey Mouse record player didn’t come from Santa, they most surely came from Sears.

Sears wishbook

Having witnessed the resigned can-we-just-get-on-with-this demeanor of Sears employees pre-liquidation (I can only imagine the volumes of tales pouring from customers now that the sales have begun), I’ll spare them my sympathy and Wish Book reveries.

But between you and me, gosh, it makes me sad to see another icon fall off the Canadian retail cliff.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. rick stevens says:

    Gery: Your story brought me to tears. Earlier: Shopping at the old store with Small Biz Bry. I actually asked the vacuum bag lady for a discount cuz the bag was opened and some bags stolen. Now am ashamed. Lovely piece. You write great. Wonderful item. Couldn’t be better. Wow. People should read your blog for sure!


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      You are the dearest!


  2. Pat Ardley says:

    I am also sad to see them go, but they were owned by a U.S. company anyway. Sad, not because I shop there, but because we used to shop there when they paid the freight on anything we ordered. Sad that Eatons and Woodwards closed down. And we lost The Bay to a U.S. company too!


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Yes, but did you have a Betsy Wetsy?


  3. Excellent article Gery. We shopped at Sears the other day. It was packed of course and long line-ups. We felt a little bit like a couple of vultures, there to pick at the bones of what little remains of a once giant retail icon. Sorry to see it go…


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thanks, Cairine. Means a lot. And isn’t that just it. I figured if I went pre-liquidation I’d feel less vultureish.


  4. Pauline James Curtis says:

    Loved this piece Gery. I was there a month ago experiencing the same things and definitely feeling guilty for having strayed, while also imagining their marketing opportunities missed by not appealing to the boomer generation’s history of shopping with mom… I even worked there as “the store nurse” back in the days, picking up customers who tripped down escalators or passing out the day Elvis died. In a few short years, when some big box American chain renovates the last of the cosmetic counters and Customer Service departments nationwide, our grandkids will ask ‘what was a Sears?’ and we’ll only have nostalgia and my Betsy Wetsy left to explain. Even Santa shopped at Sears.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, P. The memories stirred for us, eh….and, yes, mostly shopping with Mom.


  5. Britt | Alternatively Speaking says:

    It is so sad to watch such a big part of our childhood closing down, however, I agree that the last thing the employees need is to have to hear each and every person talk their ear off when they have enough on their minds already.
    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca


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