Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

  • Music:

Emblematic of their decline

When I was little, the Sears catalog was a fixture of our house. Most of our clothes came from it. So did most of my dad's tools, and much else of what little we had. Some of our neighbors lived in houses that had been ordered from the Sears catalog, shipped flat-packed, and assembled on site. Sears was where you good, solid stuff for a reasonable price.

I remember how I used to love to page through their catalogs. In those pre-internet days, I learned a lot about the world from Sears catalogs: from what kind of tools people in various lines of work used to what girls looked like in their underwear. One of the things I loved about them was the attention to detail: Everything where you might possibly care, be it a suitcase or a toolbox, an end-table or a chain-hoist, was accompanied by exact dimensions. Reading about a vise with eight-inch jaws, I would go into my dad's shop, find his tape measure, and measure in the air around his vise to get a concrete sense how big it was. Those catalogs, with all their obsessive detail, fed my nerdy little imagination like little else.

Today I was browsing the web for medicine cabinets, and when I clicked on one that looked like the one I grew up with, found myself on the Sears web site. Looking at the web page for a medicine cabinet that almost entirely fails to actually describe it. What little description there is in the "Product Overview" is ungrammatical. ("Each piece is made from MDF and have a white finish with glass windows.") Nor could they be bothered to hire competent web monkeys. (The word "décor" earlier in that paragraph renders in my and presumably any non-windows user's browser as "d?cor".) If you click hopefully on "Specs" the entirety of the new information the page now displays consists of three words: "Type: Bath storage."

There are no dimensions. None whatsoever. No width. No height. No depth. No weight. Not even so much as the number of shelves. It is, in short, an entirely non-descriptive product description. For a product, I might add, available "online only."
Tags: business
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