The Death And Resurrection Of Sears Is A Time To Dance, Not Mourn

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Looks like Eddie Lampert has managed to cobble together the funding to keep the Sears show on the road which is fun and interesting. However, what we really need to understand here is that this near death experience of the former retail behemoth is not a time for the mourning of past glories but to celebrate how much better we’re all making the world. That a company goes out of business doesn’t mean we’ve lost something – it means that someone else is now doing that thing better.

So, the finance has been found to take Sears out of bankruptcy and defer at least liquidation:

Sears Holdings Corp. got another chance at survival after Chairman Eddie Lampert put together a last-minute, last-ditch bid to buy the retailer out of bankruptcy. Lampert persuaded three lenders to finance the $4.4 billion offer, according to a statement from ESL Investments. The plan includes keeping 425 stores open and a $1.3 billion financing commitment, the statement said. Bank of America Corp. is leading the financing effort, people with knowledge of the plan have said. Sears expects to reinstate severance plans for employees who stay and would maintain guarantees to customers on appliances, televisions, lawn tractors and other big-ticket products. The offer from Lampert and his ESL Investments, the chain’s biggest shareholder and creditor, keeps hope alive for the iconic department store company and up to 50,000 employees. His plan would still need to pass muster with creditors and the bankruptcy court — and he could still be outbid by a liquidator looking to shut Sears and sell off the pieces.

It is not certain that this will work as yet.

But look up from the detail and consider the grander point about that failure in the first place:

Sears thrived because it delivered retail services better than what came before. It did much the same with the transition to the shopping malls post-World War II, riding that wave with aplomb. But we have to remember that a corporation is only a vehicle for achieving a task. There’s no reason why one should be immortal, and they’re most definitely not, either. If that task no longer needs doing or if someone else in a different company is doing it better, then great, off to the funeral service for our corporation. Which is what has happened here. Sears isn’t any worse at retailing than it was 10 or 20 years ago, and it’s most certainly better than it was 40 years ago. It’s just that around it others have become even better, even faster. We no longer desire our retail services under this banner nor through this corporation because we can get what we desire elsewhere, in a more preferable fashion. So, off to the abattoir with the old corporation then, boil it down for glue.

There simply isn’t any reason for a particular corporate structure to exist beyond its usefulness at producing whatever it is. And if other people now do this better then the heck with it. And that we are saying the heck with it, that we no longer desire it, is that very proof that others now do that thing better – which is a reason to celebrate, no?

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