Another Sears Brand Files Another Bankruptcy

Sears Hometown, yet another variation on Eddie Lampert’s retail roulette wheel, has filed for bankruptcy. If you think you’ve seen this one before, it’s because you have.

And if you’re having trouble keeping track of the Sears bankruptcy train, Sears Hometown is/was a chain of smaller stores that mostly specialize in appliances, outdoor and gardening products and sometimes service and repairs. It was a franchise operation and at one time had been operated separate and apart from the Sears mothership after being spun off in a previous Lampert financial finagling. That is, until Lampert, the grand poobah of all Searsdom bought back the part of it he didn’t already own in 2019 and with it, announced grand plans for the chain to be the new face of the brand.

As with most – if not all – pronouncements from Lampert this too turned out to be a plan of little or no substance. From as many as 700 locations at the time of the purchase three years ago, Sears Hometown is down to about 100 stores and their fate remains uncertain with the bankruptcy filing.

But even with 100 locations, Hometown is a retail giant compared to Sears itself, which has less than 20 stores still open for business…such as that business is with little inventory, less workers and an atmosphere that seems to be straight out of the Adams Family basement. Sears’ other nameplate, Kmart, has about six stores still open and they too suffer from the same neglect and despair as their sister brand.

At one time, there was a theory that Lampert was going to double-down on the Hometown division and use it to rejuvenate his retail base. If you believe that, Lampert has some real estate in New Jersey you might be interested in buying.

Let’s not forget that the Sears/Kmart/Hometown conglomerate once had more than 3,000 stores and did more than $53 billion in annual sales in 2006 soon after Lampert put them all together. Privately owned and behind numerous convoluted financial structures now, it’s impossible to know how much business what’s left is doing. The bankruptcy filing shows Hometown with at or less than $50 million in assets and at or more than $50 million in liabilities, having had an $18 million operating loss in its most recent fiscal year.

News reports on this latest debacle used words like “rapid downward spiral,” “the similar pattern of continual decline” and “financial turmoil.” They were all being kind.

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