Now Bankrupt, Sears Was Once the Amazon and Walmart of Its Day

Creative destruction. The term was coined by economist Joseph Schumpeter to name the process of businesses eliminating one another as they evolve. Today, no company better represents this evolution than Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD), the parent of Sears and Kmart.

Now a retail dinosaur and officially bankrupt, Sears was the largest American retailer as recently as the 1980s, and it dominated over the postwar era and much of the 20th century. Many of the innovations and strategies the company pioneered were borrowed by Walmart (NYSE: WMT), the biggest American retailer of the last generation, and later Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), the defining retailer of the e-commerce era — and there are more than a few similarities among them.

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