In the last months, I have heard the phrase “challenging times” being used in a variety of contexts. So, I asked myself in what ways are these “challenging times” for fundraisers. In order to add credence to anything I might say, I thought I should begin by defining just what the word “challenge” or “challenging” means.
A few weeks ago, Kim Bhasin and Lance Lambert did a news piece for Bloomberg entitled “The Long, Hard, Unprecedented Fall of Sears.” In 1989, Sears Roebuck & Company was the largest retailer in the United States. The tallest building in Chicago, and at one time, the tallest building in the world bore the company’s name. Once the second-largest retailer in America, K-Mart filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and in 2005 K-Mart and Sears merged to become the Sears Holding Corporation, which is now owned by billionaire Eddie S. Lampert and his company, ESL. According to the article, since the merger Lampert has dismantled the company and in January of this year the company was forced to sell their famous tool brand Craftsman to Stanley Black & Decker.
At one time, Sears led innovation in retail with the introduction of their catalog. Sears empowered consumers with real choices to buy good products at reasonable prices no matter where the customer lived. Sears actually improved living standards, helped lower the cost of living for most Americans and strengthened the buying power of the American middle class.
While Sears still talks bravely about its future and plans to integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping, this decline seems unparalleled in business history.