This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shopping at Sears

When I came to Rensselaer, Sears was one of the major retailers, occupying the space that has become the Town Mall on the corner of Kellner and Van Rensselaer. Now Sears offers a more limited range of goods in Rensselaer, specializing in appliances and tools in their College Square store. You can also find Sears coupons available for their products.
Entering, we see snow blowers and small tractors. In the summer the snow blowers will be replaced by lawn mowers. Sears competes with several other stores in this market, including Wal-Mart and Walters.

As you move to the back of the store, you see a lot of washing machines, stoves, and refrigerators. Fases is probably the only other local store that has as many of these appliances as Sears does.

Sears price matches, and on the day I was there, they had signs up saying they would not match Circuit City prices because Circuit City was liquidating their inventory in the process of going out of business. So if you need a new appliance, find something you like at Sears, then try to find the same model at a lower price somewhere else, and you will get the lower price.

I noticed that they had a lot of stoves that used natural gas and some electrics that had the new, smooth tops> I asked why there were no electric stoves that had the old coils. One of the clerks said that you could order one of the old coil models if you wanted, but they did not have any in stock. She also said that the latest thing was induction cooking, It also has a smooth stove top, and with it only the pot is heated, not the stove top. It sounded rather interesting, so I checked it on the Internet. Maybe our next stove will be induction. If it is, all the non-magnetic pots will have to go because induction cooking only works with pots that attract a magnet.

One of Sear's specialties is tools. They spent a lot of time making Craftsman into a brand recognized for quality. Does it still have that reputation?

At the back of the store they had some exercise machines and televisions. (Do those two things go together? If you watch too much TV, you will need to exercise? Or if you have an exercise machine, you need a TV or you will die of boredom?)

Sears used to be where American shopped, but they got out maneuvered by Wal-mart. In the U.S., no company has managed to hang onto the top position for very long. Before Sears, Montgomery Ward was number one, and they do not really exist anymore. At one time Woolworths was huge, and when is the last time you shopped at a Woolworth store? In another thirty of forty years, some new retailer will have replaced Wal-mart for king of the mountain.

On the way out, I noticed this sign on the door.


flatbow said...

That was very interesting learning about the induction stoves. Hopefully by the time we need to replace our oven their prices will be done near conventional electric oven prices.

As for Craftsman tools, in my opinion and experience, their hand tools are good quality but their power tools are less than satisfactory. I have a Porter Cable router and a Craftsman "Professional" router. The engineering differences between the P.C. and Craftsmen are night and day. The Craftsman router is mounted in a router table (Craftsman table, of course they don't use standard bolt patterns so ONLY Craftsman routers will fit) and its over all quality and workmanship is less than the cheap Harbor Freight Chinese-made compound miter saw and my lowest of the low end Lowe's table saw.
That's the price you pay when you move your manufacturing off shore to satisfy the bean counters.

You should do a segment on Walters and other "Mom 'n Pop" stores in Rensselaer. It would help highlight the uniqueness of local flair of Rensselaer and I would find that very interesting.

Peter S. said...

I, too, was fascinated by the induction stoves. At work, we use induction heating on any metal that can sustain an eddy current. Ceramics won't work but various different non-magnetic alloys will heat nicely.

Strange to see that only highly ferrous metals work with the induction stoves. Perhaps the technology will improve? Sears could sell matched sets of cookware specific to the induction stove and put a high markup on it. Hmmm...Craftsman cookware...

Desert Survivor said...

What I remember about the old Sears store was the bathroom--Mom always complained that one of us kids had to go to the bathroom right about the time we passed the store. Hey, it was a nice bathroom, why not?