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.
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.