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Thoughts on Sears Canada’s News

News of Sears Canada seeking creditor protection was not a surprise to anyone that follows retail trends. I myself was surprised it took this long.

Many have commented (blamed) changing shopping habits particularly in the online space but that is not that only reason for Sear’s demise. There are several reasons and many of them will be similar to other brands who are no longer here.

Let’s start with their online strategy. For generations like Eatons, Sears was known for their catalogs. I remember as a kid looking forward to the Christmas wish book which would show up around the end of August and look through all the amazing things. No matter where you were in this vast country you could order something from the catalog and it would show up in a matter of weeks at your local depot.

When the online revolution came, many stores thought the growth would be very slow. Sears could have used its institutional knowledge of mail order sales and start to transition to an online model. They had done this in the past with telephone orders decades before. When they acquired Eatons in 1999 it would have been another change to use that institutional knowledge.

The next thing was the change in consumers buying habits. The growth of low-end stores like Walmart and Dollerama and the rise of specialty stores hollowed out the middle ground that traditional department stores had. This affects many stores in that space and successful ones have moved to redefine their market. Most have moved upmarket with varying results.

One of Sears largest mistakes IMHO was selling off several of their exclusive brands that they were famous for. Craftsman tools for example. Craftsman tools had a large loyal clientele who would continue to buy from the brand for its quality and the fact you could return a broker tool no questions asked. Customers were willing to pay a higher amount for the quality.

The last issue was selling off many of their higher profile locations. Malls are experiencing a change as “anchor” stores like Sears and Target close. Most experts agree and it has been seen that smaller neighborhood malls are disappearing with larger regional malls surviving while changing as well. Many of these locations would have been ideal holding to keep, now they have to rely on small stores with smaller margins.

I haven’t begun to talk about the various management issues but as it is very clear Sears has an uphill battle ahead of it. The company must overcome quite a bit and it is far from certain that it will survive.

 

The London Bubble

Talking with some people at the CBC London studios for their first day on the air last week the topic of how outsiders view London as opposed to people that have lived here for quite a while came up.

There was a mix of people in the group. One person who has been here about 6 years can’t get over how much Londoners beat up their own town. He has found many amazing things that London has going for it.

Is this a case of the grass is always greener on the other side? Several of the staff at CBC London are new to the city and it will be interesting to see what their views are at various times over the next year as they discover what the city has to offer.

London has its challenges but we also have a lot going for it. We need to break out of the bubbles we seem to get ourselves into. We have to open our minds to ideas from all sides. Take the time to listen to them.

 

An Hour To Read

“An hour spent reading is one stolen from paradise.”
― Thomas Wharton

Beyond the obvious statement, the above quote provides, there is also a second line that should be added. “An hour spent reading makes the day more productive”

As part of reducing stress (much of it self-induced), I’ve been reading up on how productivity and mindfulness can work together to help the individual get to a better place.

One of the things I’ve started to do is to block out time to read. This means unplugging from the world for ideally an hour. Being able to read without interruption not only makes for greater understanding of the material being read, but I have also found makes more productive when I jump back into the rest of the day.

And things I read are not limited to fiction or nonfiction. I will include things like agendas and background materials for board meetings to longer articles I have found online I want to read in-depth. In short, anything that would benefit from having greater focus from not being distracted.

Much like getting in the zone to write requires an environment with as few distractions as possible, “deep” reading requires the same. I can read or write with certain background music, but my favorite background sounds are found outside with the wind rustling among the trees. Everyone will be different on what background sounds work for them.

The most important thing is to remove other sources of distraction, be it email, social media or any other thing that prevents you from getting into “your space” to read or write.

The next challenging will be carving out an hour to read undisturbed. The weekends and holidays I find it very easy to get up, have breakfast and then spend an hour reading before getting on with the day. Weekdays with work requirements have proven to be more of a challenge. At present, I sometimes spend between 30-45 min after dinner reading when I can.

Many productivity experts talk about waking up an hour earlier and doing some of these habits at the start of the day. It’s something I’d like to try in future but at the present time I know my limitations (and how much I like a good nights sleep)

Like any productivity or lifestyle tip, your mileage may very. You may find a different time spent may be more beneficial for you. In the end, it is worth a try to see if can produce a positive result.

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