Good news from the retail front — there’s going to be a giant sale at Sears Canada in the near future.

Bad news from the job front — a lot of Sears Canada employees are going to be looking for work.

The retailer (sorry, that should be struggling retailer) admitted this week that its very future is in doubt. Its sales are falling through the floor, it can’t pay its debts, and nobody wants to lend it money. Or, in the parlance of Sears itself: “Based on management’s current assessment, cash and forecasted cash flows from operations are not expected to be sufficient to meet obligations due over the next 12 months … Accordingly, such conditions raise significant doubt as to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

In plain English, they’re screwed.

This is hardly a surprise. Sears has always been the plain Jane sister in the department store family. The Hudson’s Bay (which announced last week that it is laying off 2,000 employees, which is shocking in that I didn’t think the Bay had 2,000 employees) has always had the dominant position in Canada.  Canadian Tire does a better job of selling hard goods. Walmart has the cheap market cornered. Sears essentially has no identity. It’s not a fashion outlet (the Bay is better at that, and Simons from Quebec is making inroads across the country). It’s not, well, anything. A Sears store is a sea a beige. The end of Sears, which is all but certain, will be another giant sized headache for shopping malls across the country, many of which are still struggling to find a replacement for the failed Target experiment. Perilous times in the retail trade indeed.

Inferno

It looked like something from a 1980s disaster movie; indeed, I heard one TV news report rather shamefully call it a “towering inferno”.

imagesA low-income apartment high rise in London went up in a shocking blaze this week. At first, the death toll seemed remarkably low, just 11. As the week went on, the numbers — and the public anger — rose and rose. As of Sunday, the death toll is now 58.

How could this happen in the 21st century? The impact of this will be more substantial than any recent terrorist attack in London,as  it has been revealed that the landlord may have used substandard cladding in a recent renovation. Tenants, many of them immigrants at the lower end of the economic spectrum, are enraged, as it looks more and more like there is one safety standard for the lower classes, and another one entirely for the upper class.

American justice

A hung jury was declared in the first of probably many trials for Bill Cosby (once America’s dad and now America’s pervert) on sexual assault charges. The jury deliberated for days and could not come to a unanimous conclusion. Don’t ask me how they came to that conclusion. Also in the U.S., the St. Paul cop who shot a black man named Philando Castile, while his girlfriend live streamed the event, was found not guilty of manslaughter.  The Cosby case and the Castile case illustrate the obvious once again — getting a conviction against a cop or a celebrity in the U.S. is near impossible.

Oh, babies!

Let’s say you’re pregnant in Alberta right now. If so, congrats! And let’s assume you want to name the baby, which is probably a good idea. If you were having a baby right now, would you want to name the child Liam, or Benjamin, or Lucas? Of if its a girl, anything ending with an A (Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Ava, Amelia)? You might want to, but unless you want your precious little bundle to go through their school years as “Liam with glasses” or “fat Olivia” or any other unfortunate nickname, then don’t do it. Once again, the same names appeared on the list of most popular Alberta baby names released this week. There will be literally thousands of little Liams and Emmas and Abigails and Olivers (Seriously? Oliver?) in Alberta schools. Pity the poor teacher of the future. A piece of advice to future parents. Clip and save the list of most popular baby names, and ignore them all. Go with something unusual, like, say, Maurice.

On the other hand, maybe Oliver’s not so bad.

RIP

Don Matthews, 77, the most successful coach in CFL history. Matthews had a hand in 10 Grey Cup champions, five as an assistant coach, five more as a head coach. A controversial figure, his coaching philosophy can be summed up with this Matthews quote: “Coaching is a dictatorship, and I’m the head dick.” Here’s an excellent bio from Sportsnet.  … Helmut Kohl, 87, former German chancellor who led the reunification of Germany …  Stephen Furst, 62, who played  Flounder in the film Animal House … John G. Avildsen, 81, Oscar winner who directed the first Rocky movie, as well as The Karate Kid … Richard Tougas, 73, my oldest brother. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that life is fair. Richard – ‘Tougie’ to his family members – was one of those people who took excellent care of his health. He walked for miles almost every day, was a non-smoker, social drinker, hardly had an ounce of unnecessary body fat. He should have lived to be 83 or 93 or 103, but his kidneys went bad on him. He was in line for a transplant, but then he got serious liver problems, likely from a rare medical condition called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT), a genetic disorder of the blood vessels that causes difficult to control bleeding.  The kidney and liver problems conspired to turn a robust healthy man into a shell of his former self. Yep, life is not fair. He was a good brother, a good man with many, many friends, a wife of some 50 years, Kathy, and two children, Michael and Nicole.

The world needs more people like Tougie, not fewer.

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4 thoughts on “The Return of Stuff Happens, week 22: Sears Days are numbered

  1. My condolences on the loss of your brother. Life is indeed unfair.

    Regarding Sears: My children are now both out of high school and for _years_ our family tried to shop at Sears. There never seemed to be any staff to offer assistance which was annoying for clothing but made shopping for footwear impossible. I have a shirt we literally pulled off a mannequin because we could not locate it on the shelves nor could we find staff for help.

  2. So sorry to hear of the loss of your brother, Maurice; it’s a difficult journey as you deal with such a loss! Thoughts and prayers are with you. Take care.

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