THE BIG STORE: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears by Donald R. Katz

THE BIG STORE: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Less would perhaps have been more in this dramatic, large-as-life account of the remarkable renaissance staged by Sears, Roebuck & Co. A uniquely American institution accustomed to clear sailing, the leviathan enterprise encountered rough weather during the late 1970's. Profits skidded and morale deteriorated as the marketplace changed and an old guard battled to retain control. Fortunately, an enigmatic but effective chief executive, Ed Telling (erroneously assumed a defender of the ancien rÉgime from whence he sprang) had the prescience and will to restructure the retailing colossus. When Telling retired at the start of 1986 (the year The Big Store turned 100), the multibillion-dollar general-merchandise operation was back on track (thanks mainly to his youngish successor, Ed Brennan), and Sears had gained a significant stake in financial services via acquisition of a securities brokerage (Dean Witter) and real-estate firm (Coldwell Banker) to complement its Allstate insurance subsidiary. Given unprecedented access, Katz makes the most of his opportunities. In frequently vivid fashion, he documents the convulsive nature of the steps taken by a once-paternal organization (whose payroll tops 500,000) to regain its competitive edge. Among other things, Katz recounts in considerable detail the extent of the transition era's human toll throughout the hierarchy. Whether general readers will be absorbed by the minutiae as well as the major events, consequences, and implications of the Sears turnaround is an open question. Surefire, through, for corporate-history buffs.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Viking