KAMLOOPS — The closing of Canada’s last Sears stores on Sunday can’t be allowed to pass unlamented, so let’s pause for a moment of reflection.
Most of the stores that closed yesterday were in Ontario and Quebec but a couple were in B.C. The Kamloops store closed in October. In all, 12,000 people lost their jobs, 83 of them in Kamloops.
Sears has been a familiar and comforting landmark in communities across the country since it began as Simpsons-Sears back in the 1950s. The arrival of the big printed catalogues was a major event for families back then.
You could buy just about anything from Sears, from lawnmowers to dishpans to refrigerators, and their stuff always worked — or when it didn’t, their service department fixed it for you.
In recent years, something went terribly, terribly wrong as Sears forgot to keep up with the online age, a remarkable thing since so much of its early business was based on mail-order delivery.
Sears wasn’t the first to feel the sting of changing times — Eatons, K-Mart, Woolco, Woolworth’s, Zellers, Target Canada, for example. Some have closed, others have been merged or absorbed, some survive elsewhere.
If we can believe the experts, Sears won’t be the last to go, either. More vacancy signs are likely to go up in shopping malls, and the malls themselves face challenges.
The problem, and the answer, as explained by the experts, is an inexorable move toward Internet shopping. Retailers who don’t get on the online bandwagon are doomed to fail. These days, it’s all about Amazon and eBay.
I think the experts are right, but I’m of the belief that it all comes down to our own intellectual and physical laziness. We’re becoming a nation of sloths, too damn indolent and indifferent to get off the couch — whether it be to go shopping or to the voting booth.
We want everything brought to us, to our doorstep. Sears, and our Canadian way of life, are paying the price.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
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