There are now just 26 Sears stores left in the entire country, and one of them is at the South Shore Plaza.
Maybe 5 years ago, haven't been back since.
Sears used to be the go to place for much of everything. At least you would check there first. What a wasted opportunity. Could have been Amazon.
Been a decade+ (at least) for Sears or KMart.
Like Xerox with PCs, Sears was first at the e-commerce table and yet somehow couldn't figure out how to tie it all together: It had its own payment system (in Discover), its own online platform (Prodigy), plus, of course, all the products to sell. And yet ...
Plus, with their catalog business, they had a complete order fulfillment infrastructure in place. They shut down their catalog business just before the web became big.
It was pointed out to me that just about everything Google does, Yahoo had first crack at.
I've put a lot of thought into this because I believe Sears could have been doing Amazon several years before Amazon itself.
Sears in its hay day was known for its logistics. It was the only store (for many years) you could order a complete house kit (and everything else for inside the house). Logistics is what set Sears, Roebuck, & Co (the original company), apart from the rest, they could get products to farmers in a matter of days, vs weeks via other catalogs.
Much like Amazon today, Sears back then had everything AND the kitchen sink. It was believed for many decades that "if Sears doesn't have, it's not being sold"
By the late 1980s, Sears had spent the last 3 decades building stores, and focusing less and less on the catalog side. Back then catalogs were being pushed by the wayside for Home Shopping (i.e. QVC) and more focus was on buying things inside a store. Catalogs were a bit passé, and often only used when your local Sears store didn't stock your item, and you needed to order it.
It's not surprising by 1993 that Sears pulled the plug on the catalog and much of the logistics surrounding it. 1993-era retail dictated it.
I don't think Sears would have been able to pull it together, unless it was some shopping module to CompuServe, and not some 'website'. Even 1993-era CompServe was pretty limited in text & graphics, even with the GIF format. 1993 would have many users still using DOS or Win3.0, which wasn't very graphics friendly. It would be a hard sell to get people to buy things that way.
And 1993 internet wasn't all that great either. Mosaic, later Netscape, didn't support graphics natively (no joke), and without graphics combined with 9600bps modem speeds, online shopping wouldn't be so great. It wasn't until early ~1995 when graphic rendering was default in Netscape.
Even payment systems didn't exist until 1997 or later. Sears would have had to invent their own. I just don't think they were innovatively thinking that way, but they could have lead the way.
Bottom Line: I think Sears issue was just timing. I think if they hung on to the catalog system until the late 90s, Sears probably would have gobbled up Amazon in the early 2000s. Remember Amazon didn't start selling things besides books until at least 2000, 7 years after Sears pulled the plug on its catalog store.
So it was just timing, they pulled out too fast. And I can't blame them, its hard to predict the future, especially when at first people thought the Internet was 'a fad'.
PS - not to get technical, Adam, but the Xerox PARC was prototype for a paperless office. It was never really meant to be a 'personal computer' (consumer), and the cost of the system made it prohibitively to do so. While the PARC system had graphics, networking, WISYWYG printing, and more, PARC was clunky to use, expensive to repair, and had many bugs. Again it was a 'prototype'.
We think of the PARC system as the distance great uncle of the PC, because similarities exist and many technologies we use today come from the PARC, not because it was a 'personal computer' to buy and use at home. It was a 'system' to be used in an office.
And while it seems like Xerox execs 'missed the boat'. I don't think in 1971 the general public would even know what to do with a 'personal computer'. This didn't happen until the homebrew era in the late 70s. Even if PARC was revived ~1978, it still would have been too advanced and costly to sell. Plus remember, it took Gates and Jobs **stealing** the ideas from PARC in 1978, which catapulted the idea of 'graphical os'. Not to sure if it would have caught on if Xerox was pushing it alone & Xerox would be pushing it as 'paperless office' not "all in one thing you connect to tv to program or play games on'.
but I digress and wrote too much. Sorry :p
A tangent on your digression - PARC is the Palo Alto Research Center, still a subsidiary of Xerox. The system PARC development was the Alto.
back in the day when it was mostly a mail order business. You could buy anything and everything from anywhere in the US. They even sold kits to build your own house
Unfortunately this is not a thing that plaza is most known for.
Serious question. I've never been there. Though maybe I should visit soon while there's still a Sears to go to.
Among us cranky old-school folks whenever someone calls it "The Braintree Mall" or the like they are corrected of the proper name and informed that into the 1970s it did not have a roof to enclose it as a mall and so the legacy plaza name is the only one that is appropriate.
Now get off my lawn!
The ones listed as 'Home & Life' or 'Appliances & Mattresses" are much smaller than regular Sears stores, and sell only limited lines of merchandise.
Braintree is the only Sears store remaining in New England, after closures earlier this year in North Attleborough, Marlborough, and Brockton.
Other local-ish places that I remember *used* to have Sears:
Cambridge (CambridgeSide Galleria mall, and, much earlier, in Porter Square)
North Shore Mall in Peabody
I seem to recall that back in the 80's.
and a small outlet store. I don't think it ever had a full-sized Sears department store.
Sears sign on the Landmark Bldg.
My roommate junior year at BU was from some wealthy suburb of NYC. He was also a ticket scalper. Back then most Sears stores also had a Ticketmaster outlet (there was no Internet.) My roommate would hear about new concerts (like Springsteen or U2) that were going on-sale in the NYC area. The TM outlets near the concert location would have big lines and many times shows would sell out quickly. He would go to the TM at this never-crowded Sears when tickets went on sale and buy up a bunch of tickets to resell back at home at a tidy markup.
Yes, Sears was a full sized store on Park Drive, upstairs, that later closed then became Sears 'outlet' in the basement (that is now a garage) ....
I think it was already just an outlet by the time I arrived here in the 1970s.
Yes the Landmark Center was Bostons Sears store when my parents were kids. The distribution center was in Dorchester where now the South Bay Mall resides.
Didn't Hanover Mall have one, too?
Sadly, the Braintree (sorry... South Shore Plaza) Sears isn't full-size anymore, either. One floor flipped to Primark, I think.
in other parts of Massachusetts, far from Boston, such as Holyoke, Kingston, and Hyannis, as well as in New Hampshire. I think the 'Hanover' store was actually across the river in White River Junction, Vermont.
I have no idea what you're talking about.
I'm talking about Hanover, MA - and the eponymous mall on 53 at Route 3. Definitely not Vermont.
I didn't even know there was a Hanover, MA. I was thinking of Hanover, NH.
Every time I go to the Plaza, Sears is closed. It reminds me of some of the stores in Roslindale Square in the 90s that seemed to be open a few hours a week.
I don't know if the Sears website is at all accurate or up-to-date, but it says that the store is open only 11 am to 6 pm.
My late aunt worked over at the Landmark building as an accountant, upstairs from the retail outlet. She retired around 1990 or so, but by then the Sears outlet was closed.
I wouldn’t step foot in the south shore plaza. It has changed a lot over the past 10 years, and not for the better.
You mean that there are black folk shopping there now, no?
I’ve been going there since it was a single level (except the anchors and that weird basement) and it’s basically okay for me.
Now, now... don't go jumping to conclusions. Anon might not be an ass to "black folk". Anon might be an ass to people of Asian ancestry.
If they wrote 20 years, sure, but unless they are keying in on west Asians (ie the Asians no one calls Asian) they would have been used to hearing Vietnamese and Cantonese at the Plaza by 2010.
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