I, likely because I'm a millennial, had never been to a Sears Holdings Corp.-owned (SHLD) Kmart before. Until recently.
In May, I visited a Brick, N.J., Kmart location. My trip gave me an understanding as to why the failing retailer announced, on Thursday, Aug. 24, its plans to close an additional 28 Kmart stores, on top of the 180 Sears and Kmart locations it has already shuttered this year and the 150 more it plans to close in the third quarter.
The store was dingy, dirty and disorganized, far worse than the Sears store I recently visited that I thought was a horror show. Plus, the location was poorly stocked, despite the fact that I arrived around 9 a.m., only one hour after it opened.
I also now understand why the retailer, led by Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert, has failed to turn a profit in 30 out of the last 38 quarters and seen same-store sales declines in 12 of the past 14 quarters.
Before the market open on Thursday, Sears reported yet another abysmal quarter, despite touting a turnaround effort that included hashing out a deal with Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) to sell its Kenmore products on the e-commerce behemoth's site.
In May 2016, Sears said it was exploring alternative options for its flagship Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard and Sears Home Services businesses. In January, Stanley Black & Decker Inc. (SWK) paid an initial consideration of $525 million for Craftsman, with the deal valued at up to $900 million.
On Thursday, Sears reported second-quarter revenue slipped to $4.37 billion from $5.67 billion in the year-ago period and posted a net loss of $2.34 a share. At the close of the 13-week period ended July 29, Sears held a scant $442 million in cash, of which only $191 million is available under its credit revolver. Comparable store sales plummeted 11.5% across both Sears and Kmart banners in the quarter.
Here's how my trip to Kmart proved that Sears is failing.
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Who knows? This stray shopping cart with an assortment of random items greeted me near the main entrance.
The food aisle was probably the most understocked area of the entire store and this fridge, placed front and center, is an example.
From this display, it's unclear what Kmart's end game is: want orange juice or chocolate milk? Better grab them fast before the store runs out completely.
Meanwhile, the fridge was ridiculously dirty.
I don't think it takes a scientist, or even a bright store clerk, to figure that shelves of bleach shouldn't be across from meat and produce. To be fair, though, the fridges barely had any food in them.
When is the store getting deliveries, or closing?
The carpets and walls were dilapidated and dirty, making the entire store seem uninviting.
Again, an almost-entirely empty shelf.
Needless to say, the big cardboard boxes dispersed across the floor did not entice me to buy a couch.
The bagged-up, disheveled mattresses also did not tempt me to reach for my wallet.
There was absolutely no organizational system to the movie aisle; they weren't categorized alphabetically, no identified comedy/drama/thriller sections. As one can see, "Ted 2" was creeping into "Paul Blart Mall Cop 2's" space.
The toy aisle, or aisles, if there even were designated toy aisles, were an utter mess. If I didn't know any better, I would have assumed the toys were placed on the shelves by a person in the age group they were made for.
Poor, Elsa. I wasn't sure if she had a box at one point, but it looks like she's seen better days. Probably not how customers want to buy their new toys.
It's probably not the safest idea to keep the door to a back storage area completely wide open without a single employee in sight.
I obviously am not an employee. I easily walked in.
I thought maybe once I got to the outdoors section of the store,in the back, it might finally get better. It did not.
Instead, I found the mess I saw inside.
That tiny sign that says "Ladders are for employees' use only" likely will not deter a young customer, perhaps, from climbing on it.
Probably the best way to ensure customers don't climb on the ladder, and possibly get hurt and sue the store, is by putting it away.
It probably goes without saying but I did not pick up a Sears gift card for myself or anyone I know.
However, I would have grabbed one of the Amazon (AMZN) gift cards because I'm starting to understand the appeal of e-commerce.