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Old 10-10-2018, 05:47 PM   #81
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i've always thought there's a big difference between shopping at k-mart vs wal-mart. Wal-mart ain't nordstrom's, but the stores are well lit, fairly clean, and the merchandise is generally neatly arranged. K-marts have low ceilings, are dimly lit, have floor tiles that are likely yellowed, the corners are dirty, and the merchandise is more frequently off the rack and on the floor. The impression--dingy, yellowed, not-too-clean. Neither store had quick checkout or a returns desk that was well run, but things were worse at k-mart.

Walmart keeps all their prices low, k-mart's prices were good on sale items, the rest were often higher than walmart.

According to this book, k-mart's management just got complacent. They got out-hustled and out innovated by walmart. From the looks of the stores, i think walmart did a better job of training their folks, investing in their stores, and enforcing standards. K-mart became somebody's cash cow.
exactly.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:18 PM   #82
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I've always thought there's a big difference between shopping at K-Mart vs Wal-mart. Wal-mart ain't Nordstrom's, but the stores are well lit, fairly clean, and the merchandise is generally neatly arranged. K-marts have low ceilings, are dimly lit, have floor tiles that are likely yellowed, the corners are dirty, and the merchandise is more frequently off the rack and on the floor. The impression--dingy, yellowed, not-too-clean. Neither store had quick checkout or a returns desk that was well run, but things were worse at K-Mart.

Walmart keeps all their prices low, K-Mart's prices were good on sale items, the rest were often higher than Walmart.
A powerful part of Walmart's formula was initially to locate their stores in small markets. They could easily kill the local small-town merchants because their volume was so much higher. When the local hardware and clothing stores were gone, they had a captive audience.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:17 PM   #83
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A powerful part of Walmart's formula was initially to locate their stores in small markets. They could easily kill the local small-town merchants because their volume was so much higher. When the local hardware and clothing stores were gone, they had a captive audience.
This is a common narrative, and one legitimate point of view. Another perspective, and one I've heard more often from people who live in rural communities, is how happy they are to have Walmart in their town. They always were a captive audience, but now they pay less and have a better selection of merchandise, just like everyone in suburbia already had.

Regarding Kmart vs Walmart and which were better run: Walmart came into suburbia and cleaned Kmart's clock.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:23 AM   #84
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A powerful part of Walmart's formula was initially to locate their stores in small markets. They could easily kill the local small-town merchants because their volume was so much higher. When the local hardware and clothing stores were gone, they had a captive audience.

If you also remember, Walmart advertised and sold 'Made In America' because the consumer loved it... not sure when they changed to almost all Chinese but probably after Sam died...


Edit... maybe I was wrong in my thinking... I know they advertised it, but a quick look at this PBS says different... will have to look at it later...


https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/front...s/wmchina.html
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:00 AM   #85
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The article says "Made in America" backfired for Walton ... so they replaced the American flag with a smiley face.

Although the apparel market in particular was pretty Asia dominated even by the 1970s. I remember buying a shirt from a small department store that sold higher-end brands, brought it home and I could barely get my arm in a sleeve, even though it was marked XL. Looked on the label and it said "Made in Pakistan." It must have been the Pakistani version of extra large.

The PBS article also pointed out that Walton waited for the Asian supply chain to iron out bugs like that before he went in whole-hog ...

Sam Walton was a very smart guy, and his stores improved as he grew. I saw a Walmart for the first time when I was a grad student in Columbia, Mo., around 1980. The store looked a lot like another small-town discounter, Pamida-Gibson (remember those?). The store interior was industrial, with rack shelving.

As Walmart's market footprint got bigger, his stores got bigger and better too. As others have mentioned, KMart stores haven't changed much in design or size in 40 years. Since they're smaller than the average Walmart (let alone the Supercenters), they can't offer the selection that Walmart can.

And, they don't seem able to adapt to local conditions. My nearby KMart had a big garden center open next door, which effectively put them out of the garden business. But it still maintains a separate garden section with rakes, fertilizer and the like. They don't even bother to turn the lights on over there anymore. They could use that space to beef up their selection of automotive supplies and/or tools, which pales next to Walmart. But as my DD used to say, "Too late, too late."
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:06 AM   #86
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Oh I can. Kmart is a depressing place (around where I live) to walk into.

Walmart and Target are bright and well organized. At K, you may encounter some old school pegboard shelving that is about 50 years old, half broken down, with merchandise that is all mixed up and in terrible shape.

Both WM and Target clearly make an effort to watch their shelves.

And their floors. Every morning you see the "zamboni-like" cleaners in those stores. Not so much at K. The lighting is different. The signage is different.

Etc. and on and on. WM and Target are not perfect, but clearly they do something that just feels better to most customers.

Sears used to be like this! And then, well, it went to heck. I know one thing that was really irritating was they wouldn't take Visa (back in the day). You had to get a store card, and then later Discover. This kind of decision from the highest levels of the company had repercussions. I'm sure there were many more, like the story about above sales getting in trouble for selling the value leader object. After a while, these things add up. Customers may not even intentionally switch. They may just gravitate to the slightly better experience without realizing it.

... Oh, and for guys, I think the rise of Home Depot, Lowes, Menards was a huge blow.
My experience is a much different. Maybe it's regional. Our local WM has improved, but I still find it depressing. My brother lives in an rural/exurban area and says WM is the community center. I don't think there is a "People of Kmart" website, but maybe that is because they're all gone. The last two Kmart stores around here were very well run but still closed eventually. One of the huge things for me is when there is variation from one location to another. That's a quality issue. If the stores were mediocre, but all the same, at least you know what to expect going in. That's why I put Target in another league from the other two. I just travelled to the midwest and stopped at Target (and Aldi's) several times along the way and the stores felt very familiar to the ones at home.
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:55 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
This is a common narrative, and one legitimate point of view. Another perspective, and one I've heard more often from people who live in rural communities, is how happy they are to have Walmart in their town. They always were a captive audience, but now they pay less and have a better selection of merchandise, just like everyone in suburbia already had.

Regarding Kmart vs Walmart and which were better run: Walmart came into suburbia and cleaned Kmart's clock.

Not to cheerlead for Walmart, but I worked in a small hardware/variety store in the early 70s, and they had maybe one or two each of small appliances and houseware items. They weren’t even an Ace or True Value, so weren’t getting any sort of volume discount. Compare that to even the lowliest of Walmarts.

Back in my old stomping grounds, the local Walmart donates all busted bags of dog/cat food to the local barely funded animal shelter.

Speaking of both small towns and Walmarts, dollar stores - Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc. are springing up like mushrooms.
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:10 PM   #88
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I cannot recall the last time I went shopping at Sears. I don't remember why or how I stopped going there.

But I still recall the time Sears was kicked off the Dow 30, and replaced by Home Depot. Forgot what year, so I searched the Web and learned that it was in 1999.
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Old 10-12-2018, 09:41 AM   #89
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90,000 Pensions.

What do you think will happen?

PBGC max payout/yr. is $60K, and is already scheduled for insolvency for the year 2025. More here:

https://www.pbgc.gov/news/press/releases/pr18-02

Perhaps a bellwether for the retail industry as a whole, as more major corporations like Sears, Macy's, Bonton, Abercrombie, Sams club and Penneys close more and more stores.

As a general rules, a large part of the PBGC annual payouts come from current corporation pension payments, so a double hit, if and when the companies declare bankruptcy.
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Old 10-12-2018, 09:53 AM   #90
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Don’t know what will happen but I know Sears Canada recently cut pension payouts but I think the average payout is well below 60k.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/sea...rees-1.4773283
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Old 10-12-2018, 12:22 PM   #91
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90,000 Pensions.

What do you think will happen?

PBGC max payout/yr. is $60K, and is already scheduled for insolvency for the year 2025. More here:

https://www.pbgc.gov/news/press/releases/pr18-02 ...
Please, I corrected you on this the last time you said this. The PBGC is NOT "scheduled for insolvency for the year 2025".

From your link:

Quote:
Multiemployer Program Insolvent in FY 2025
Is Sears in the Multi-employer program? I'm pretty sure they are not.

You buried the part relevant to Sears (and most of us with a pension, I think - yes, ~ 74% are in the single employer program):
Quote:
PBGC’s Single-Employer Program, which covers about 28 million participants, continues to improve and is likely to emerge from deficit sooner than previously anticipated.
edit/add: found the link from the last discussion on this, about a month ago:

What's killing Sears? Its own retirees


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Old 10-12-2018, 12:48 PM   #92
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Please, I corrected you on this the last time you said this. The PBGC is NOT "scheduled for insolvency for the year 2025".

-ERD50
OOPs...

Point taken... I DO, NOW remember...

I was a shaken when I learned just how many Sears pensions there were. "There, but for the grace...." go I. My first employer ... for the first 8 years out of school from '58 to '66.. The cash out of my profit sharing when I left, is why I still have a few shares of Allstate, Metlife and Morgan Stanley.

Still, I have some old friends, who retired from Sears, and are comfortably retired on what was an excellent profit sharing program.

Maybe we need a new thread about pension safety for financial illiterates like me.
I have some younger friends who are either newly retired or soon to be retired... some from the Chicago School System, and some others, locally here in central Illinois, who are city government employees, and, I'm quite sure, unaware of the long term safety of their pensions.
.................................................. ......
While Sears pensions are covered by the Single employer plan, and despite recent changes in the contract with the PBGC, the plan is only 63% funded, versus almost 90% for most retailers.
If it all goes forward as it looks now, it may still be a big hit to the PBGC.
Could have been worse except that Sears had bought out three quarters of the original 400,000 plans.
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:14 PM   #93
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...
Maybe we need a new thread about pension safety for financial illiterates like me.
I have some younger friends who are either newly retired or soon to be retired... some from the Chicago School System, and some others, locally here in central Illinois, who are city government employees, and, I'm quite sure, unaware of the long term safety of their pensions. ...
It really depends on the specific pension. While IL is in all sorts of hurt, DW's (small) pension is with the Illinois Municipal Employees Retirement Fund (IMRF). She works in an office in a school. IMRF is pretty well funded (~85%), they managed to keep it out of the hands of the politicians, it's run more like a credit union. And she still is eligible, and pays into SS.

The City employees you know may be in IMRF, or maybe their own local system? Not sure what is common. CPS is another beast altogether, with all sorts of complications. While IL pensions are protected constitutionally, I would not feel comfortable about that. Blood from a turnip comes to mind, as well as the (slim I'd say), chance of a change to the IL Constitution (though it is being proposed to change from a flat tax rate to progressive tax rate).

At any rate, it would behoove them to learn all they can, as soon as they can. But if they are IMRF, they should be able to relax, IMO.

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...
.................................................. ......
While Sears pensions are covered by the Single employer plan, and despite recent changes in the contract with the PBGC, the plan is only 63% funded, versus almost 90% for most retailers.
If it all goes forward as it looks now, it may still be a big hit to the PBGC.
I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that's already factored into the PBGC. PBGC 'only' has to make up the difference between that 63% and the PBGC cap. No COLA on these pensions. In a BK, I bet PBGC has their hand out for more. I know when my MegaCorp was doing a merger, a condition was to pump up the PBGC funding, and they did it. So PBGC does seem to have some teeth in matters like this.

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Old 10-15-2018, 06:56 AM   #94
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He's dead Jim....
Sears Goes Bankrupt, Mired in Debt and Deserted by Shoppers
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Old 10-15-2018, 08:42 AM   #95
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I cannot recall the last time I went shopping at Sears. I don't remember why or how I stopped going there.

But I still recall the time Sears was kicked off the Dow 30, and replaced by Home Depot. Forgot what year, so I searched the Web and learned that it was in 1999.
Oh, I know why I drifted away.

They didn't accept Visa cards. A web search shows they started in late 1993. By then, I was wooed to the big box side of Home Depot, Lowes, Hechinger and Builder's Square.

A twist of irony. Builder's Square was a Kmart subsidiary before Sears was involved with Kmart.
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Old 10-15-2018, 08:50 AM   #96
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Builders Square, another retailer that was kicked to the curb and left for dead.
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:19 AM   #97
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I remember when most retailers had their own store charge and didn’t accept major credit cards so Sears was not unusual in that. My first eyeglasses were from the Sears optical department in 1960 and I bet my parents charged them on a Sears card.

Walmarts outside urban areas are much nicer than the one we go to for prescriptions on our plan D. Big socioeconomic difference: the more rural Walmart stores are often the only shopping option within several miles so they attract everyone in the area. The one in DH’s home town is quite nice and he runs into a lot of people he knows there. The Walmarts nearest our house? I don’t think we’ve ever run into someone we know. But they are still head and shoulders above the Kmart that used to be a few miles away.

I read that Starbucks’ strategy is to refresh its stores every five years and completely remodel them every ten years. This would be extreme for Sears or Walmart of course, but probably has kept the Starbucks cachet alive longer than most restaurants or retailers. Sears gave up a long time ago. Maybe Starbucks should buy Sears.
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:30 AM   #98
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I read that Starbucks’ strategy is to refresh its stores every five years and completely remodel them every ten years. This would be extreme for Sears or Walmart of course, but probably has kept the Starbucks cachet alive longer than most restaurants or retailers. Sears gave up a long time ago. Maybe Starbucks should buy Sears.
I don't think Starbucks could be as ambitious if they had to work with the significantly small margins that Sears does.
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:50 AM   #99
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It really depends on the specific pension. While IL is in all sorts of hurt, DW's (small) pension is with the Illinois Municipal Employees Retirement Fund (IMRF). She works in an office in a school. IMRF is pretty well funded (~85%), they managed to keep it out of the hands of the politicians, it's run more like a credit union. And she still is eligible, and pays into SS.

The City employees you know may be in IMRF, or maybe their own local system? Not sure what is common. CPS is another beast altogether, with all sorts of complications. While IL pensions are protected constitutionally, I would not feel comfortable about that. Blood from a turnip comes to mind, as well as the (slim I'd say), chance of a change to the IL Constitution (though it is being proposed to change from a flat tax rate to progressive tax rate).

At any rate, it would behoove them to learn all they can, as soon as they can. But if they are IMRF, they should be able to relax, IMO.



I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that's already factored into the PBGC. PBGC 'only' has to make up the difference between that 63% and the PBGC cap. No COLA on these pensions. In a BK, I bet PBGC has their hand out for more. I know when my MegaCorp was doing a merger, a condition was to pump up the PBGC funding, and they did it. So PBGC does seem to have some teeth in matters like this.

-ERD50
My DW also has a IRMF pension coming her way (probably in the next 2 or 3 years). She has pt job in a library. From what I can tell (like you), IRMF appears to be in good shape. Her pension will be small but we're not complaining.
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:11 AM   #100
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I remember when most retailers had their own store charge and didn’t accept major credit cards so Sears was not unusual in that.
Back when credit cards were just getting going in the 60s, the Sears card was considered the crème de la crème, because it was not easy to get. Once you had a Sears card your credit rating was golden.

So what we all did was get a bunch of individual gasoline brand credit cards (they were handed out to nearly anyone) and rack up good payment records on them by buying gas at different stations. After a year or so of that, you could apply for a Sears card and you were in clover.
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