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Sears, the Original Everything Store, Files for Bankruptcy

Founded after the Civil War, the original Sears, Roebuck & Co. developed a catalog business that sold the latest dresses, toys, build-it-yourself houses and even tombstones. The company was, in many ways, an early version of Amazon. Photo: nytimes.com

'Sears, which more than a century ago pioneered the strategy of selling everything to everyone, filed for bankruptcy protection early on Monday.

The company had long ago given up its mantle as a retail innovator. It was overtaken first by big box retailers like Walmart and Home Depot and then, by Amazon as the go-to shopping destinations for clothing, tools and appliances.

In the last decade, Sears had been run by a hedge fund manager, Edward S. Lampert, who sold off many of the company’s valuable properties and brands, but failed to develop a winning strategy to entice consumers who increasingly shop online.

The result has been a long painful decline. A decade ago, the company employed 302,000. Today, there are about 68,000 people still working at Sears and Kmart, which Mr. Lampert also runs.

Now, the retailer aims to use a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to cut its debts and keep operating at least through the holidays, according to two people briefed on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the company’s plans'