What Amazon Can Learn From Sears—Yes, Sears

Pride cometh before the fall

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Generations ago—long before Jeffrey Preston Bezos was even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes—Sears was the retail giant Americans turned to when they wanted to buy stuff.

Sears evolved from a watch company to a mail-order catalog to a department store. Along the way, like Amazon today, Sears sold products as varied as books, bicycles, pianos and sewing machines—but, unlike Amazon, Sears also sold live chickens, guns and cars.

“Amazon today is the Sears catalog of its time,” said Doc Searls, a fellow at the Center for Information Technology and Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who wrote the book The



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