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The Big Store

Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears
Length: 30 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: Business & Careers
4 out of 5 stars (170 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

In 1972, Sears, Roebuck, and Co. was America's greatest store, accounting for over 1 percent of the gross national product. Suddenly, profits plummeted and the stock price collapsed. Sears was at civil war and in need of a new leader. In 1978, Edward R. Telling became the Sears chairman, and by 1984 Sears was back on top, bigger than ever. Telling turned things around so dramatically it seemed like a miracle. But the resurrection of Sears as a great American merchant was no miracle, but the result of the power, vision, and will of strong leadership. 

Award-winning author Donald Katz, who received unprecedented and unrestricted access to Sears's records, meetings, and executives, delivers a spellbinding account that gives you a front-row seat to a corporate revolution. Katz is the founder and CEO of Audible, the leading provider of spoken audio information and entertainment.  

This edition includes an updated introduction written and narrated by the author.  

©1987 Donald R. Katz (P)2018 Audible, Inc.
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Dated book in information and approach

Published in 1987, The Big Store is very much of its time. Focusing on what was then seen as the shocking and sudden downfall of a retail juggernaut, Katz looks at the corporate culture at Sears as a way to explain the company's misfortune. Often interesting, the book nevertheless comes across as shortsighted. It reflects a fixation on executives that overwhelmed 1980s business journalism (think Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch, for example) and undervalues the broader cultural context that inform shifting dynamics between brands and consumers. To listen to a book told from the vantage point of 1987 is frustrating. The book lacks hindsight and fails to account for the continued decline of Sears over the past thirty years. Katz seems to embody the perspective of his interview subjects, getting caught up in the minutiae of power struggles and petty managerial grievances. He fails to understand that the downfall of Sears had little to do with specific executive decisions. Instead, it was a manifestation of much broader shifts in the economy, consumer tastes, demographics, and popular culture. Katz can be forgiven for not seeing all of this in the moment, but as a newly commissioned audiobook it is an odd choice. For today's listener it fails on a number of levels. On one hand it is nice of Katz, the founder and CEO of Audible, to make his work available. At the same time, Katz seems unaware that his writing not only fails to understand the perspective of the general public, but seems to share the Sears executives' contempt for customers. With Audible being so customer friendly, the tone and limitations of this book are surprising.

4 people found this helpful

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What an interesting history

Who would have thought a company could grow and succeed mightily with all that baggage, it seems impossible.
Well written (so nice to hear) words with more than 4 letters!

Thanks for making the book available Mr. Katz
Narration is awesome

4 people found this helpful

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I still have working Sears products in my home.

I remember getting the Sears catalog in the mail, and The Sears Wish Book, which I still own the last copy of. I have Sears touch lamps in my bedroom that have astonished guests for years. I own Kenmore washer and dryers that lasted longer than my friends Maytags by at least 10 years or more. The toy department was where my children roamed an made out their Christmas lists. I have a fully functioning Sears Craftsman riding lawn mower in my garage that out lasted a John Deere.

I think the author of this documentary failed to mention the quality of the Sears product line and focused more on the management. Still,it was an interesting story of how the mighty Sears could implode from 1977 to 1984. Just 7 years to destroy a legend that the younger generation will never appreciate, and the older generation will never forget.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating!!!

My dad worked at Sears and that was always our go to store, and when Audible gave us this book I thought i might like it. I finally got to it and I found it fascinating. I didn't really get into all the executives but the story of how the store came about, and how they built it up and all its growing pains, it was a very very good listen and I learned alot about the giant Sears!!

1 person found this helpful

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fantastic

I had no idea how big Sears was. Sears was Amazon long before there was an Amazon. Long but worth it

1 person found this helpful

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The worst

I really wanted to like this book, but its poor organization, focus on uninteresting,unimportant details and self-important bloviating by the author made that impossible. A shame, as the topic interests me.

1 person found this helpful

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Great read

Good narration. Good to see how Sears shaped the world we know of today.

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Terrible narrator

The narrator was mind-numbingly boring. I dreaded listening to this book, as much as I may or may not have enjoyed the content. In all honesty, the narrator destroyed this book for me. Within 5 minutes of listening, I started fading off, not able to hold attention to his monotonous, emotionless voice. His cadence was like a metronome, with no expression. I think the book was well written and excessively well researched, but I will never forget how bad it was to listen to. I'm so glad it's over.

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Incredibly Interesting

A fascinating look into a critical time of transition at Sears. For those interested in the rise and fall of big corporation, this book provides an in depth narrative of rebirth before an ultimate demise more than 30 years later. Aside from the the information, the book is very well written and a compelling story.

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It's Long

This book is insanely long and the readers voice is very monotone. If you grew in the culture loving Sears then you'll love the history behind the company otherwise it's going to get boring.