Why America Stopped Shopping at Sears

In the late 1960s, while fledgling new retailers Walmart, Kohl’s, Kmart and Target were hard at work establishing a foothold in the hearts, minds and wallets of the American consumer, the nation’s dominant retailer was busy building the world’s tallest building.

In pouring its funds and focus into Chicago’s Sears Tower, America’s original super-store may have unwittingly become the architect of its own long, slow and painful demise.

“Walmart, the strongest of all those four, wasn’t anywhere near where Sears was for a couple of decades,” says James Schrager, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “So, if Sears was on top of things, even in the early 80s, they could have been Target or a better version of Kmart, they could have been any of that. But they sat on their hands and built their tower in 1969 instead.”

It’s been a precipitous fall for the one-time retail powerhouse, which this week filed for bankruptcy after years of losses.

Established 123 years ago, Sears was literally the place where America shopped, as its tagline boasted.

Sears had everything from clothing and toys, to tools and appliances. It even sold housing kits. Thousands of Sears homes still stand across America today. For decades, American families eagerly awaited the delivery of the retailer’s several-inches thick mail order catalogues.

The secret to Sears’ success was being able to stay ahead of the market, according to Schrager.

From small stores in small towns, to big stores in downtowns in the 1920s; to a thriving catalogue business for smaller outposts, the main way America shopped right through to the 1950s and 60s; and then the switch to anchor stores in shopping malls through the late 1970s, Sears was always on the move, changing with the times.

But then the retailer seemed to stop evolving.

While the Walmarts and Targets of the world recognized the value of moving away from shopping centers and opening massive spaces in strip malls where customers could park right in front of the store, Sears stayed at the mall.

The competition also developed individual identities and expertise. Target became known for its upscale, fashion-oriented approach, Walmart for superior logistics in smaller towns, and Kohl’s had fashion-only soft goods, says Schrager.

Meanwhile, Sears seemed to lose its focus.

“Sears slowly lost track of its retail business by being fascinated with other things,” Schrager says. “In 1969, they began to build the tallest building in the world, that took a lot of time away from the business. They bought a stock brokerage company, which they had no business doing. They bought a real estate company, which they had no business doing. They developed a wonderful credit card called Discover, which has nothing to do with retailing.”

And along the way, the type of people at the top, the people making the business decisions, changed.

“Merchants are the lifeline of the business and Sears allowed them to wither,” Schrager says. “How do we know that? Because, after a while, Sears wasn’t getting a merchant to run the business. They were getting a financier or a marketer or someone other than a dirty-fingernails merchant who spent their life trying to beat the merchant down the street.”

Edward Lampert, Sears’ most recent CEO and majority shareholder, is a hedge fund billionaire. He took over in 2013 and expressed hopes of turning the company around.

Although Sears just filed for bankruptcy protection this week, Schrager believes the final death blow for the retailer occurred back in the early 1990s.

That’s when previous company executives decided to sell off the profitable parts of the business, while keeping the failing stores. In 1993, Sears shed the Discover credit card, its real estate company Coldwell Banker, and its Dean Witter Reynolds stock brokerage. Allstate, its insurance company, followed in 1995.

“There’s nothing left. Retail walks by you,” Schrager says. “You can’t stand still, and Sears has been standing still since 1969. That’s a very long time. The world has evolved two of three times since then…it’s over.”

While one-time competitors like Walmart, Target and Kohl’s continue to change and thrive, Kmart, which is now operated by Sears Holdings, is also in financial trouble because, Schrager says, it too failed to change with the times.

As for the one-time king of the pack, the next time consumers get excited about buying something at Sears could be when the bankruptcy court rules that the place where America once shopped must itself now be broken apart and sold off for the best possible price.

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Legendary Istanbul Photographer Ara Guler Dies at 90

Legendary Turkish photographer Ara Guler, famed for iconic images of Istanbul that captured almost three-quarters of a century of the city’s history, has died at age 90, state media said.

Guler passed away after being rushed to hospital in Istanbul for emergency treatment for heart failure, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

He won fame with extraordinary images of Istanbul in black and white that admirers believe captured the soul of the city more than any other photographer.

His work included images of the city’s best known mosques and landmarks, pictures of workers going about their daily lives to rare pictures of Istanbul covered in a blanket of snow.

Preserving a city

In a city that is now changing at a frenetic pace, Guler’s work preserved facets of Istanbul that have now become irrevocably lost.

Celebrated Turkish writer and Nobel Literature Prize winner Orhan Pamuk famously used Guler’s images in his book “Istanbul: Memories and the City” in which the smoky and misty photos provided the perfect accompaniment to the text.

For many, the work of Guler was infused with the spirit of huzun, the Turkish word for melancholy, which is seen as a particular Istanbul characteristic.

But in a wide-ranging career, he also photographed famous personalities including Salvador Dali, Alfred Hitchcock and Winston Churchill. Another famous subject was the artist Picasso.

​Born in Istanbul

Born to an Armenian family in Istanbul, Guler attended an Armenian school there and began working as a photographer on Turkish newspaper Yeni.

He got his first big international chance as a photographer in 1958 when US magazine Time-Life opened a Turkey office.

He then met the likes of Marc Riboud and Henri Cartier-Bresson who signed him up to join the celebrated photo agency Magnum.

Fans liked to call Guler the “Eye of Istanbul,” but he insisted he was more.

“People call me an Istanbul photographer. But I am a citizen of the world. I am a world photographer,” he said once.

Worked around the world

His work took him around the world to Africa and Afghanistan as well as his native Turkey and resulted in numerous books, which remain a favorite of Istanbul souvenir-hunters to this day.

Guler was a well-known face in Istanbul and even in his last months could regularly be seen at the outside tables of the cafe he owned, Ara Café, in central Istanbul, which is adorned with his pictures.

In August, a photography museum in Istanbul opened in his name.

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US Again Declines to Label China a Currency Manipulator 

The Trump administration has again declined to label China a currency manipulator, but says it is keeping China and five other nations on a watch list.

“Of particular concern are China’s lack of currency transparency and the recent weakness in its currency,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in his biannual report to Congress.

“Those pose major challenges to achieving fairer and more balanced trade and we will continue to monitor and review China’s currency practices, including thorough ongoing discussions with the People’s Bank of China,” he said.

Mnuchin said China — along with Germany, India, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland — would be placed on a list of countries whose currency practices require what the report calls “close attention.”

Governments manipulate currency by keeping the exchange rates artificially low to make its goods and services cheaper on the world market. 

But that puts trading partners and others at a disadvantage. President Donald Trump promised throughout the campaign to label China a currency manipulator once he got into office, but so far he has declined to do so.

Instead, Trump has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports to address what he says are unfair trade practices and the trade deficit.

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Обвинувачений у держзраді: прокуратура АР Крим вимагає екстрадиції з Росії колишнього кримського депутата

Прокуратура Автономної Республіки Крим вимагатиме екстрадиції з Росії колишнього депутата Верховної Ради Криму Віталія Нахлупіна, повідомив 17 жовтня речник Генпрокуратури України Андрій Лисенко. В Україні цю особу обвинувачують у державній зраді, уточнюють у прокуратурі.


29 грудня 2016 року прокуратура АР Крим направила в суд обвинувальний акт щодо Нахлупіна. Під час розслідування кримінального провадження отримано беззаперечні докази того, що цей депутат надав допомогу і сприяння окупації Криму Росією. 


Зокрема, за його безпосередньої участю незаконно прийнята так звана «Конституція Республіки Крим» та інші документи. Нахлупін у березні 2014 року через офіційний інтернет-сайт Верховної Ради Криму відкрито звернувся до жителів автономії про необхідність взяти активну участь в так званому «референдумі».

Російські ЗМІ 17 жовтня повідомили, що співробітники правоохоронних органів затримали в Москві «заступника голови Ради міністрів Криму» Віталія Нахлупіна за підозрою в отриманні хабара.

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Jubilant Customers Light Up as Marijuana Sales Begin in Canada

Jubilant customers stood in long lines for hours then lit up and celebrated on sidewalks Wednesday as Canada became the world’s largest legal marijuana marketplace.

In Toronto, people smoked joints as soon as they rolled out of bed in a big “wake and bake” celebration. In Alberta, a government website that sells pot crashed when too many people tried to place orders.

And in Montreal, Graeme Campbell welcomed the day he could easily buy all the pot he wanted. 

“It’s hard to find people to sell to me because I look like a cop,” the clean-cut, 43-year-old computer programmer said outside a newly opened pot store.

He and his friend Alex Lacrosse were smoking a joint when two police officers walked by. “I passed you a joint right in front of them and they didn’t even bat an eye,” Lacrosse told his friend.

Festivities erupted throughout the nation as Canada became the largest country on the planet with legal marijuana sales. At least 111 pot shops were expected to open Wednesday across the nation of 37 million people, with many more to come, according to an Associated Press survey of the provinces. Uruguay was the first country to legalize marijuana.

Ian Power was first in line at a store in St. John’s, but didn’t plan to smoke the one gram he bought after midnight.

“I am going to frame it and hang it on my wall,” the 46-year-old Power said. “I’m going to save it forever.”

Tom Clarke, an illegal pot dealer for three decades, opened a pot store in Portugal Cove, Newfoundland, and made his first sale to his dad. He was cheered by the crowd waiting in line.

“This is awesome. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this,” Clarke said. “I am so happy to be living in Canada right now instead of south of the border.”

Promise of pardons

The start of legal sales wasn’t the only good news for pot aficionados: Canada said it intends to pardon everyone with convictions for possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana, the newly legal threshold.

“I don’t need to be a criminal anymore, and that’s a great feeling,” Canadian singer Ashley MacIsaac said outside a government-run shop in Nova Scotia. “And my new dealer is the prime minister!”

Medical marijuana has been legal since 2001 in Canada, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has spent the past two years working toward legalizing recreational pot to better reflect society’s changing opinion about marijuana and bring black-market operators into a regulated system.

Corey Stone and a friend got to one of the 12 stores that opened in Quebec at 3:45 a.m. to be among the first to buy pot. Hundreds later lined up.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing — you’re never ever going to be one of the first people able to buy legal recreational cannabis in Canada ever again,” said Stone, a 32-year restaurant and bar manager.

Shop in stores, online

The stores have a sterile look, like a modern clinic, with a security desk to check identification. The products are displayed in plastic or cardboard packages behind counters. Buyers can’t touch or smell the products before they buy. A small team of employees answer questions but don’t make recommendations.

“It’s a candy store, I like the experience,” said Vincent Desjardins, a 20-year-old-student who plans to apply for a job at the Montreal shop.

Canadians can also order marijuana products through websites run by provinces or private retailers and have it delivered to their home by mail.

At 12:07 a.m., the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission tweeted: “You like us! Our website is experiencing some heavy traffic. We are working hard to get it up and running.”

Alberta and Quebec have set the minimum age for purchase at 18, while other provinces have made it 19.

No stores will open in Ontario, which includes Toronto. The nation’s most populous province is working on its regulations and doesn’t expect stores to operate until spring.

A patchwork of regulations has spread in Canada as each province takes its own approach within the framework established by the federal government. Some provinces have government-run stores, others allow private retailers, and some have both.

Canada’s national approach allows unfettered banking for the pot industry, inter-province shipments of cannabis and billions of dollars in investment — a sharp contrast with prohibitions in the United States, where nine states have legalized recreational sales of pot and more than 30 have approved medical marijuana.

Bruce Linton, CEO of marijuana producer and retailer Canopy Growth, claims he made the first sale in Canada — less than a second after midnight in Newfoundland.

“It was extremely emotional,” he said. “Several people who work for us have been working on this for their entire adult life and several of them were in tears.”

Linton is proud that Canada is now at the forefront of the burgeoning industry.

“The last time Canada was this far ahead in anything, Alexander Graham Bell made a phone call,” said Linton, whose company recently received an investment of $4 billion from Constellation Brands, whose holdings include Corona beer and Robert Mondavi wines.

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Представництво ЄС закликає владу притягнути до відповідальності винних у замаху на активіста Михайлика

Представництво Європейського союзу в Україні закликає українську владу притягнути до відповідальності винних у замаху на одеського активіста Олега Михайлика, який дістав 22 вересня тяжке вогнепальне поранення. Про це представництво повідомляє в мережі Facebook.

«Під час свого візиту до Одеси я мала нагоду поспілкуватися з Олегом. Мене вразила його самовідданість у боротьбі за верховенство права, законність, прозорість та демократичний розвиток свого рідного міста. На жаль, у цій боротьбі він ризикує життям», – заявила заступник голови представництва Анніка Вайдеманн.

«Я сподіваюсь, що правоохоронні органи України швидко проведуть ретельне розслідування. Винні у скоєнні замаху на Олега повинні буті притягнуті до відповідальності», – вказала дипломат.

Також на цю тему: На одязі підозрюваного в нападі на одеського активіста знайшли сліди пороху – прокуратура

27 вересня Київський районний суд Одеси відправив до слідчого ізолятора усіх трьох підозрюваних у нападі на одеського активіста Олега Михайлика – Торніке Герасіна (Нагладзе), Лашу Герасіна і Манучара Варшанідзе.

Усіх трьох затримали ще 24 вересня, коли вони добровільно прийшли до Приморського райвідділу надати пояснення, чому їхні телефони були поблизу місця нападу на Олега Михайлика. 22 вересня в Одесі із вогнепальним пораненням у груди госпіталізували громадського активіста, представника партії «Сила людей» Олега Михайлика. Сам він заявляв, що не бачив нападників.

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Завтра Балуха етапують до колонії в Керчі – Чийгоз

Російська влада має намір 18 жовтня етапувати українського активіста Володимира Балуха до Керченської колонії, повідомив проекту Радіо Свобода Крим.Реалії заступник голови Меджлісу кримськотатарського народу Ахтем Чийгоз.

Офіційного підтвердження цього від російської влади поки немає.

Також на цю тему: Засудженого в Криму Балуха скоро етапують у російську колонію – Денісова

На час етапування Балух вирішив тимчасово припинити голодування. За даними адвоката Дмитра Дінзе, у Балуха після понад 200 днів голодування є підозра на виразку або панкреатит.

Перед цим підконтрольний Кремлю Верховний суд Криму частково пом’якшив вирок засудженому до 5 років колонії Володимиру Балуху, засудивши його до 4 років і 11 місяців колонії і штрафу в розмірі 10 тисяч рублів (це близько 4 тисяч гривень). Активіста засудили до такого тюремного терміну за сукупністю двох кримінальних справ.

Балух оголосив безстрокове голодування 19 березня 2018 року. Після місяця повної відмови від прийому їжі кримський архієпископ УПЦ КП Климент переконав Балуха вживати мінімальний набір продуктів (дві склянки вівсяного киселю, 50-70 грамів сухарів з чорного хліба і чай з медом), який підтримував «балансування на нульовій позначці».

ФСБ Росії затримала Володимира Балуха 8 грудня 2016 року. Співробітники ФСБ стверджували, що знайшли на горищі будинку, де живе Балух, 90 патронів і кілька тротилових шашок. Захист Балуха і правозахисники стверджують, що він став жертвою репресій за свою проукраїнську позицію – через прапор України, який знаходився на подвір’ї його будинку.

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Tesla Secures Land in Shanghai for First Factory Outside US

Electric auto brand Tesla Inc. said it signed an agreement Wednesday to secure land in Shanghai for its first factory outside the United States, pushing ahead with development despite mounting U.S.-Chinese trade tensions.

Tesla, based on Palo Alto, California, announced plans for the Shanghai factory in July after the Chinese government said it would end restrictions on full foreign ownership of electric vehicle makers to speed up industry development.

Those plans have gone ahead despite tariff hikes by Washington and Beijing on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in a dispute over Chinese technology policy. U.S. imports targeted by Beijing’s penalties include electric cars.

China is the biggest global electric vehicle market and Tesla’s second-largest after the United States.

Tesla joins global automakers including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Corp. that are pouring billions of dollars into manufacturing electric vehicles in China.

Local production would eliminate risks from tariffs and other import controls. It would help Tesla develop parts suppliers to support after service and make its vehicles more appealing to mainstream Chinese buyers.

Tesla said it signed a “land transfer agreement” on a 210-acre (84-hectare) site in the Lingang district in southeastern Shanghai.

That is “an important milestone for what will be our next advanced, sustainably developed manufacturing site,” Tesla’s vice president of worldwide sales, Robin Ren, said in a statement.

Shanghai is a center of China’s auto industry and home to state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp., the main local manufacturer for GM and VW.

Tesla said earlier that production in Shanghai would begin two to three years after construction of the factory begins and eventually increase to 500,000 vehicles annually.

Tesla has yet to give a price tag but the Shanghai government said it would be the biggest foreign investment there to date. The company said in its second-quarter investor letter that construction is expected to begin within the next few quarters, with significant investment coming next year. Much of the cost will be funded with “local debt” the letter said.

Tesla’s $5 billion Nevada battery factory was financed with help from a $1.6 billion investment by battery maker Panasonic Corp.

Analysts expect Tesla to report a loss of about $200 million for the three months ending Sept. 30 following the previous quarter’s $742.7 million loss. Its CEO Elon Musk said in a Sept. 30 letter to U.S. securities regulators that the company is “very close to achieving profitability.”

Tesla’s estimated sales in China of under 15,000 vehicles in 2017 gave it a market share of less than 3 percent.

The company faces competition from Chinese brands including BYD Auto and BAIC Group that already sell tens of thousands of hybrid and pure-electric sedans and SUVs annually.

Until now, foreign automakers that wanted to manufacture in China were required to work through state-owned partners. Foreign brands balked at bringing electric vehicle technology into China to avoid having to share it with potential future competitors.

The first of the new electric models being developed by global automakers to hit the market, Nissan’s Sylphy Zero Emission, began rolling off a production line in southern China in August.

Lower-priced electric models from GM, Volkswagen and other global brands are due to hit the market starting this year, well before Tesla is up and running in Shanghai.

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Many CEOs Pull Out of Saudi Investment Conference

Western corporate chiefs are continuing to pull out of an investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week, distancing themselves from questions about Riyadh’s involvement in the disappearance and alleged killing of a U.S.-based Saudi journalist in Turkey.

At first, many of the business leaders reserved judgment on what happened to the missing journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. But as reports from Turkey have mounted alleging that Saudi agents tortured, killed and dismembered Khashoggi two weeks ago inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul, the chief executives have announced in recent days they will not be attending the three-day Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh starting Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia has denied killing Khashoggi, a critic of the country’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in columns he wrote for The Washington Post. It says it will disclose the results of its investigation into his disappearance.

The conference is being organized by Saudi Arabia’s mammoth sovereign wealth fund and was being billed as a showcase for economic reforms advanced by the crown prince as he attempts to diversify the kingdom’s economy, for decades focused on its role as the world’s leading oil exporter. The gathering had been dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” after the annual meeting of world economic leaders in Switzerland.

JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon and the heads of two top U.S. investment firms — BlackRock and Blackstone — have dropped out of the conference. Top executives at the Ford auto manufacturing company and the MasterCard credit company have said they won’t be going, while the Google internet search engine company said Tuesday that the head of its cloud computing business also would not be at the event.

The chiefs of European bankers BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Societe Generale also rescinded acceptances to the conference.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who says Saudi Arabia should not be judged guilty in the incident while its investigation is being conducted, said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will decide by Friday whether to attend.

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