To the casual shopper, Sears, one of America’s oldest retailers, may appear to be on life support. The department store chain that once reinvented how Americans shopped now barely has a brick-and-mortar footprint after a 2018 bankruptcy and hundreds of store closures.
But talk of Sears’ demise may be premature: just two months ago, a previously shuttered Sears in Burbank, California, quietly turned the lights back on. Two weeks after that, another reopened in Union Gap, Washington.
I visited the newly opened Burbank store several times last month, including on Black Friday, retail’s busiest shopping day, to explore the storied brand. The new Sears looks much like the old one, a vestige from a time when department stores ruled America’s shopping landscape. While the store remained mostly devoid of shoppers when I visited, those who did drop in, along with some store associates, expressed hope and excitement of a new age for Sears.
Inside Sears’ revived Burbank store
The reborn Sears in Burbank looks like a typical American department store. Mattresses, appliances, and other home goods populate the ground floor. Up an escalator you find clothing, bags and accessories. Another escalator transports you up to a third floor, but it was roped off when I visited with signs promising something would be coming soon.
The store was clean and organized – but shoppers were sparse.