Revisiting Pastabagel's Comment on the News of Sears Bankruptcy October 10, 2018 2:24 PM   Subscribe

In light of the announcement of Sears' possible bankruptcy I thought it would be interesting to revisit Pastabagel's comment on what might have been had Sears not made a few key mistakes.
posted by Deathalicious to MetaFilter-Related at 2:24 PM (41 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

I think about that comment every time I hear anything about Sears (less and less often these days).
posted by saladin at 3:45 PM on October 10 [12 favorites]


Cool, I remember that comment. Also, the last time I was in a Sears—over a year ago now—it was an absolute ghost town with no obvious reason for existing. Bit of a surprise it's taken this long for them to go bankrupt.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:08 PM on October 10


It's almost exactly to the year that Sears Canada declared bankruptcy (and continue to fuck over their pensioners, partly a function of where pension plans line up in terms of creditors in a CCAA or BIA proposal in this here country).

But the fact that people who worked for a company for 30 or 40 years don't have that standing while other people who made good money up until their terrible decisions precipitated the demise of the company is certainly a case for the reinstatement of the guillotine.

All that said, pastabagel's comment was insightful and I actually sent it to a couple of people when I was having email discussions with them about Sears Canada's bankruptcy a year ago.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:16 PM on October 10 [9 favorites]


Yes, it shortly became obvious after their leaning that they had let a huge opportunity slip by. Let's do remember that there were external factors (namely the vultures circling for a hostile takeover) that forced, or at least strongly encouraged, taking those actions.

But yeah, it's crazy to think how they could have utterly dominated Internet retailing at a minimum given the institutional knowledge they had, and very likely several others had they had the vision and not had hatchet wielding PE types rushing the gates at a critical moment.
posted by wierdo at 5:32 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]


Actually, I like to check out the Lands' End rack every so often -- and if the local Sears shuts down I will be SOL.

I gave up on their crappy auto services, Craftsman tools, and other items years ago.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:55 PM on October 10


There was a recent episode of 99% Invisible about Sears Homes, actual homes they sold though the catalog. They talked a lot about the orgins of the catalog itself.

Upon searching for the page to find a link for you fine people, I see they have a photo of a still-existing Sears Home with a photo credit (and Flickr link) to Jessamyn's mom. It always comes back to Jessamyn.
posted by bondcliff at 6:57 PM on October 10 [19 favorites]


I gave up on their crappy auto services, Craftsman tools, and other items years ago.

Me too, though I see Craftsman tools are now being sold at Lowes. I haven't looked at them yet, but I used to really like their hand tools. I don't expect the quality is the same as they used to be. I wonder if they still honor the lifetime warranty.

I have a Craftsman snowblower, which I bought many years ago because I knew I could get parts at Sears. I guess I'll just have to find generic parts for it now.
posted by bondcliff at 7:07 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


I knew what comment that link was going to before I clicked it. One of the most insightful things I've ever read on the Blue. Reminds me of Xerox having the computer GUI, mouse, and LAN before anybody else, and not understanding the potential in what that had.
posted by COD at 7:14 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]


You should try dropping this theory into conversation if it ever seems appropriate. Don't source it, just talk about the history of Sears and the possibilities that existed in the 90s. You don't need to lie and claim it was your idea, just don't say it wasn't. The awe with which people will regard your knowledge and insight is quite spectacular.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:07 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel also did the famous boring men comment. Is there some kind of Metafilter Hall of Fame somewhere?
posted by Melismata at 8:24 PM on October 10 [7 favorites]


Shit, I just realized my casual handyman but still nice-ish socket set in a box ("Yessir Mr. Eld, everything in this box is covered by the Craftsman warranty EXCEPT the box itself, ha ha. Yessir, even if you outright lose a socket just come see us and we'll replace it.") is now probably warrantyless.

It did feel odd several years ago to walk in (with receipt and inventory sheet that I keep taped to the lid of said box in hand) and say "I lost these two sockets, can you replace them?" and, presto chango, they were replaced and I walked out of the store in record time.

Besides a need for some random tools like female TORX driver set and a pry bar a few years back, oh and MsEld getting me a framing hammer that was on super discount when one store was actually shutting down, I haven't set foot in a Sears since. *sigh* End of an era, if only one that I am of an age that I only got to see the tail end of, I suppose.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:47 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]


Wow, I opened that tab, got distracted and then came back to it hours later, forgetting the context. I usually have a bunch of new metafilter tabs open so I figured it was one of those. Read through most of the thread marveling at how mefites are still apparently using MP3 players and CDs. Everything makes more sense now .
posted by lollusc at 1:01 AM on October 11 [23 favorites]


"Pastabagel also did the famous boring men comment."

I love that comment, but I also have to shamefully admit that I kinda don't get it. Every single time I read it, I get a different take. Sometimes its that it's taking the piss out of women, sometimes men, sometimes both, sometimes it's the article in the FPP, sometimes it's the situation, sometimes all of it and sometimes none of it. Maybe that's the point. Humanity is all insufferable.

Makes me wonder how it hits others, why the comment struck a chord with so many people.

I sometimes also wonder if Pastabagel was taking the piss out of me a little bit, as I left the 'Men are from Mars' book reference a few comments above. I was being sarcastic, but it doesn't read that way, which even now makes me feel a bit silly.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:15 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


That whole boring men post is garbage, and while it could be argued that Pastabagel's contribution is intended as satire, it comes across as yet another example of the tired "women care about feelings, men care about fucking" trope.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:40 AM on October 11 [12 favorites]


You should try dropping this theory into conversation if it ever seems appropriate. Don't source it, just talk about the history of Sears and the possibilities that existed in the 90s. You don't need to lie and claim it was your idea, just don't say it wasn't. The awe with which people will regard your knowledge and insight is quite spectacular.


You basically just called me out for almost all of my blogging and in person behavior from 1999-200x. This habit died when the majority of the people I spent time with in real life were also on MetaFilter and I knew I'd be busted for it.

But for one glorious span, I was ripping your genius off all the freaking time.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:32 AM on October 11 [10 favorites]


I have made the "Sears could have been Amazon" many times, but I never did the legwork to have the supporting data, so it was just idle speculation. And I'm not special. Many, many, many people have gone that far. pastabagel's excellent comment actually did the work to make the case, and makes it clear that not only could Sears have claimed the space Amazon had, they could have been more, and they really should have. They were just stupid.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:04 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


Until the store closed last year, Sears was my local source for the old-lady clothes that I like to wear. I miss them. I make do with Kohl's but it's not the same.
posted by JanetLand at 9:00 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


betweenthebars: "and while it could be argued that Pastabagel's contribution is intended as satire"

It would be difficult, in my view, to argue anything else.
posted by chavenet at 9:08 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Unless, that is, you were already familiar with Pastabagel's online output before he joined MetaFilter, which largely involved trolling liberal blog comment sections during the build-up to the Iraq War.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:09 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


You basically just called me out for almost all of my blogging and in person behavior from 1999-200x.

That was less a call-out and more a confession.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:27 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Unless, that is, you were already familiar with Pastabagel's online output before he joined MetaFilter

I once wrote a Usenet post written from my cat's point of view. I would really hope nothing anyone wrote pre-Metafilter would ever affect how people read their comments here.
posted by bondcliff at 11:35 AM on October 11 [10 favorites]


You should try dropping this theory into conversation if it ever seems appropriate. Don't source it, just talk about the history of Sears and the possibilities that existed in the 90s. You don't need to lie and claim it was your idea, just don't say it wasn't. The awe with which people will regard your knowledge and insight is quite spectacular.

I've told people about it, but I'm a source-citing type.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:36 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


FWIW I grew up on Rush Limbaugh and considered myself a conservative when I first signed up for Metafilter.

I got better.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:37 PM on October 11 [14 favorites]


Does anyone know why Pastabagel has not been active here for a while? Because I had never heard of him until now and those two comments were hysterical and I could use a few more laughs.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:44 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Forgive me. The Sears comment was brilliant and the boring men one was hysterical. It’s past my bedtime there in Europe and I got confused.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:46 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Most days, about every item of clothing I am wearing was ordered online. Yesterday it was jacket, duster, t-shirt, pants, socks, shoes, underwear, and hat. Even my Swatch was on online purchase. Oh, my wallet was bought at an AAFES.
The same more or less 200 piece tool set I started with in 1980 something still sells for around the same price. The steel has changed in a Tommy Boy muffler way - theirs is guaranteed for life; but it will break every year. Ours is guaranteed for a year; but will last for life. Off the shelf 3/8" drive Craftsman sockets could be used with impact drivers, in a garage setting, no problem. Now it is possible to split a regular grade 3/8" drive Craftsman socket open by working on a lawnmower with a 6" ratchet. Pro tip - vintage Craftsman @ yard sales = the win.
Craftsman must now be purchased in a Pro Series grade; or else it will all break crack bend and fail.

(imagine if Amazon sold houses). Yikes. That could prove to be some bizarre foreshadowing.

H8 to see the Sears go; I keep meaning to get one of their still good toolboxes while they are still around. Online of course; and with free delivery to my home. No driving = no hassle.
posted by Afghan Stan at 9:03 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Bella Donna: Does anyone know why Pastabagel has not been active here for a while?

I just checked out pastabagel's MeFi User page. Their last post here is from 2011, but I can't find the date of their last comment. The blog linked from their MeFi user page tries to install Flash. The last Tweet in their linked feed there is from 2014.

I dunno, pastabgel might be gone now. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 7:03 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


"I dunno, pastabgel might be gone now. :7("

Pastabagel seems to be fine. They* are just not using that twitter account/metafilter account anymore. A couple of google searches revealed their identity and shows they still do stuff on the internet. No idea why they left metafilter, but they seem fine.

*Using 'they' as to not give away a gender, not certain offhand if their gender was revealed on metafilter.
posted by el io at 9:54 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


I have a nice little Craftsman 3-drawer "fancy toolchest" that I got on sale about 10 years ago and which is GREAT because it fit perfectly on a shallow shelf in my "things" closet.

I also have memories in the late 70s of going to the Sears Repair Center, which was a whole storefront miles away from any actual Sears stores. I forget what my mom went there for, but it was one of our classic "uggggggghhhhhhhh mooooooooommmmmmmmm, do we HAVE TO?" destinations. Probably vacuum cleaner belts. Anyway, that it was nowhere near a Sears cemented it as an "everywhere" business in my mind, moreso than Macy's even.

I once wrote a Usenet post written from my cat's point of view. I would really hope nothing anyone wrote pre-Metafilter would ever affect how people read their comments here.

Hoo boy, my inbox only goes back to 2003, but I have backups of my previous ~10yrs of email and I am...intentionally...not importing them. I also have previous email addresses I could search the internet/usenet for and...no, I can't say I've had much desire to revisit them. This is closely related to the high school notes a friend of mine still has.
posted by rhizome at 4:45 PM on October 12


I quoted pastabagel's comment to a friend on another board yesterday (with attribution) and they replied by pointing out that, in terms of efficiency and intelligence and business logic, it makes sense to lament that Sears made this big giant mistake. But in terms of being human beings stuck living in this world, it's truly a good thing that we don't live in a world where there is a 100+ y/o Amazon analogue that also controls online trading, is deep into real estate, and has 25 years of building up the internet.

Because if you think Jeff Bezos is bad, a Sears shaped monster with elements of Bezos, the Ricketts family, [insert real estate tycoon], and Zuckerberg would hardly be a freaking improvement.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:07 PM on October 12 [12 favorites]


Well, at the same time I certainly haven't seen an Amazon Service Center anywhere.
posted by rhizome at 7:06 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


I've mentioned Sears dropping the ball a few times and usually contrast it with how Victoria's Secret almost dropped their much smaller ball. By which I mean VS didn't have anything but a holding page as late as 1997 and it was such an obvious, obvious, mistake. By which I mean the company already had a well respected catalogue service dealing in a product that a significant portion of their clientele were embarrassed to shop for in person. Transfer the catalogue pages to web pages (photo and text); set up a basic cart; and even if you don't support online orders allow web shoppers to print out their cart and snail mail it or call it in as normal. Cripes myself and a couple of buddies probably could have rolled out that sort of thing in a couple months even back in the day when you web programmed on the bare text files.
posted by Mitheral at 7:14 PM on October 12


There was a Victoria's Secret lingerie show that was the biggest bandwidth event ever back then.
posted by rhizome at 12:09 AM on October 13


Sears could have had all those things mid-90s, but considering they'd been the nearest thing to Amazon for almost the entire 20th century , they'd done pretty well. Their catalogue took advantage of cheap rail and postal delivery in the USA (rail freight charged by the ton, so Sears recommended you could make up weight with almost free sacks of sugar: literal “case candy”), then when motor vehicles became popular, set up stores in convenient locations.

Unfortunately, with real estate and employees in inconveniently blatant locations, they couldn't keep up with the latest trends in not paying corporate taxes. Now Amazon's always-shiny catalogue takes advantage of cheap unregulated road and subsidized postal delivery: all movement is accomplished in six stages and the seventh brings return.
posted by scruss at 2:18 AM on October 13 [5 favorites]




I used to work at Sears for 4 years, starting out on the receiving dock and then getting promoted to office assistant, and boy. I commented a few years ago on how operations were basically fucked.

What really sealed my choice to quit was the district manager standing right in front of a store-wide rally and saying that there was no way Sears would go bankrupt with Eddie (yes, he called him Eddie) having invested "so much money in it". I bit the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing manically...

Everyone who had worked more than a shift there knew Ol' Eddie was strip-mining the place. I hope my former co-workers have found other, better jobs.
posted by lineofsight at 2:18 PM on October 15 [7 favorites]


Comment scooped or just same info leading to similar sounding article? You be the judge.

https://gizmodo.com/the-twisted-truth-about-sears-and-the-american-dream-1829756711
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:48 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]




"I once wrote a Usenet post written from my cat's point of view. I would really hope nothing anyone wrote pre-Metafilter would ever affect how people read their comments here."

Why? Was your cat racist?
posted by klangklangston at 4:46 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]


Nope. The cat just preferred to communicate in ALL CAPS.
posted by zenon at 9:18 AM on October 17 [3 favorites]


Tired: Malcolm Gladwell
Wired: Pastabagel
posted by invitapriore at 12:55 PM on October 20 [1 favorite]


« Older Hurricane Michael check-in thread   |   A better way to favorite on a mobile device Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments