*Update, Monday morning, January 6, 2014: For further context, please read the author's response to Sears and the controversy this article triggered, Sears: A National Tragedy.
**Updated from 4:06 p.m., EST w/ Brian Sozzi images from J. C. Penney (JCP) on Page Two and official response from Sears VP of Corporate Communications via Twitter as well as images from a Sears store in Santa Monica, CA, on Page Three.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here's an update I wanted to put up top to ensure you saw it -- official response from Sears VP of Corporate Communications Chris Brathwaite followed by a request for reader participation:
If you are near or can be near a Sears and are so inclined, head over and take some pictures. Be random. Don't just look for the bad ones. Send them to me via email (rocco.pendola@TheStreet.com) or on Twitter, @Rocco_TheStreet.
TheStreet's Brian Sozzi, also known as Belus Capital Advisors CEO, is roaming a Sears Holdings (SHLD) flagship store in New York as we speak. And, as was the case during the run-up to the holiday shopping season, the images he's posting on Twitter (TWTR) are nothing short of pathetic:
Tip Always look under a rack for fallen now dirty clothes to assess margin risk. pic.twitter.com/U7AxFHEDczBrian Sozzi (@BrianSozzi) January 4, 2014
I'm convinced Sozzi is no longer safe inside a Sears store.
Sozzi also posted some images from Best Buy (BBY), which, comparatively speaking, looks much spiffier than Sears. In this shot, Brian passes along the nugget that fitness tracker gadgets were indeed a hot item over the holidays:
Based on subsequent images Sozzi posted to his Twitter account, things don't look much better at JCP:
Triggered by the response from Sears, I decided to go do some man-on-the-scene picture taking myself.
Now, to be fair, I went over to the Sears store near where I live in Santa Monica and, while as soulless as any other big box/department store retail experience, the place appeared mostly tidy.
Granted, it's located next to some seriously high-end retail in the downtown area of Santa Monica. We're talking everything from Bloomingdales to Nordstrom (JWN) at the newish Santa Monica Place to everything from Apple (AAPL) to Lululemon (LULU) along the Third Street Promenade.
Plus it's housed in a historic building, typical of old school LA architecture:
But I reckon, this ender by Brian Sozzi is pretty close to, if not the truth:
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.