CHICAGO (CBS)—Today was deadline day for Sears to find a buyer to purchase the company out of bankruptcy. The retail chain is looking for a buyer for about 500 of its stores and the Kenmore appliance brand in an effort to keep Sears and Kmart open.
CNBC has reported the company’s chairman made a last-minute bid late Friday afternoon.
The Sears catalog was a staple in American homes during much of the 20th century.
It dominated the retail world—during the pre-internet era.
Shoppers flocked to Sears for decades, but then Walmart, Target and Amazon popped up and changed everything.
After–Chistmas shoppers at the Chicago Ridge Sears talked about the company’s possible demise like it was the loss of a close friend.
“It’s part of a generation,” shopper Maria Garcia said. “All of our family shopped here—my grandparents who are no longer here—my aunts and uncles. “This is somewhere we came to shop.”
Another shopper, Lizana Hernandez, said she’s been shopping at Sears since she was a little girl.
“I’m 30 this year,” Hernandez said. “It’s been around awhile.”
Sears has been around for more than 125 years, headquartered in and around Chicago.
But in the last decade, a slow decline accelerated.
Ron Olbrysh, a retired Sears employee, said the company lost its way over the years.
“First it ignored Wal-Mart, then it ignored Amazon,” Olbrysh said. “When it finally caught on, they were ‘Johnny Come Lately.”
Olbrysh, who is with the National Association of Retired Sears Employees, said the bottom finally fell out in 2005 when financier Eddie Lampert took over and merged Sears and Kmart.
“The person that took over the company wasn’t a retail merchant, but a hedge fund operator,” Olbrysh said.
But beyond the high-finance takeover, customers hold tight to what Sears had meant to them.
“They sell good quality stuff,” said shopper Dwight Forest. “Sears is a good quality store, and I hate to see it go—and I hope it doesn’t go. I hope it stays around for a while.”
The hope may have been realized.
Sears employs about 68,000 employees.
Reports say Lampert’s plan to save the company calls for rescuing about 50,000 jobs.