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Possible demise of Sears brings back fond memories

Empty Sears buildings like this are scattered across the country. But Sears brings back fond memories to many baby boomers.
Empty Sears buildings like this are scattered across the country. But Sears brings back fond memories to many baby boomers. NYT

Hearing all the talk about Sears and its impending demise has made me a little nostalgic. Growing up, Sears was the place to go.

As a young girl, heading to Sears with my dad as he got some Craftsman tools while I played on the tractors was a pretty good Saturday, especially when we stopped at the gas station for an Orange Crush. As an aspiring adolescent shopping in the Lemon Frog teen section was the stuff of dreams.

Finally, I was tall enough to pull off the plaid polyester bell bottom with a wide white vinyl belt. Never mind that the outfit was almost 100 percent petroleum based and I was a single rogue ash away from one of my mom’s Winston’s “Super Kings” cigarettes causing me, if not to go up in flames, then at the very least experiencing a smoldering slow burn.

Sears also defined our Christmas list. My siblings and I would fight over the jumbo Sears catalog, circling things we coveted for presents. One year, my sister had the nerve to take a pair of scissors and cut out what she wanted, virtually destroying the catalog in the process. I remember crying and begging my mother to please, please, please find a way to get us a new catalog and, of course, punish my sister.

My Sears claim to fame (and I’m sure there’s a social media group with just that name) was that back in the ’80s when Sears was no longer cool at all, unless you were buying a Kenmore appliance, I got not one but two sorority rush outfits at the Sears in Waco, Texas and I looked fantastic. Yep, I was rocking a khaki skirt and navy-blue blazer from the least preppy store in America.

Hey, if it was good enough for Sears supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, it was good enough for me. I also want to add that I got compliments on my Sears outfits, but to this day I still wonder if they were sincere or if I was being mocked.

I was also wearing navy blue knee socks with that khaki skirt so it’s probably a 70/30 chance that it was indeed mocking. I just reread that sentence so yeah, let’s make that a 99 percent chance. Whatever, I still remember feeling fabulous.

I’m not an economic historian but I think Target killed Sears. Just as I associate many childhood memories with Sears, my kids do the same thing with Target. Hours upon hours with my kids have been spent at Target. In fact, both of their first infant “ta da” outings were at the bulls-eye.

When they were pre-school age, Target was my escape hatch. I would strap both kids in the big rig known as the double cart and as they sucked down an Icee that kept them mercifully quiet, I would enjoy a leisurely stroll down the aisles.

You know your kids have spent too much at Target when you child texts you from college to inform you that she “misses her home Target.” (News flash – apparently the Targets in Southern California aren’t as good.)

This makes me wonder what my grandchildren, years from now, will remember about shopping. Will it be delivery drones taking over the skies in numbers so vast the sun is concealed? Imagine a world where the horizon is flush with drones laden with boxes of our wants and needs?

Somehow that doesn’t sound nearly as much fun as enjoying a cherry Icee in a shopping cart.

Reach Sherry Kuehl at snarkyinthesuburbs@ gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.

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