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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.

What listeners say about The Big Store

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amazingly deep research.

amazingly deep research. it was realty long time from starting research for book to completing it.

1 person found this helpful

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Very good book to listen and read

Please try this, one of the most recommended books , lot of content in it to explore and learn great lessons in it.

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Chronicle of the mighty Sears

It’s a chronicle of the mighty Sears, Roebuck and Company, an american retail giant with 19th-century roots as a mail-order business operating in rural America. Sears grew into one of the nation’s largest corporations, redefining the American shopping experience in the process. Its 130-year history embodies the rise and fall of American consumer culture and with it a host of business lessons.

While this one is a long and arduous read, it does have a few fruitful lessons which make it worthwhile for a manager who aims for business and culture growth in their company. Mentioned below are a few:

1. Decentralisation with a touch of centralised context, similar to what Netflix does today is what works best. Integral for company wide agenda alignment, ensuring micromanaging doesn’t become a habit, and a great place for helping people achieve their 100% potential.

2. Company culture is more important than bottom line- In a business so vast and old, slice of company culture is what makes a perfect cocktail. Brenon’s comeback to the a hint of old ways with this growth plan help Sears drink the Bloody Mary post 1980’s.

3. Consumer Needspace is the answer to growth hypothesis- Venturing into consumer credit, mortgages and stock trading was an answer to long term potential merged with consumer needs for horizontal expansion led growth.

4. Anger is an emotion one must keep out while doing negotiations- The story showcase a skilled negotiator Rod Hills who used his negotiating skills with logic and emotion excluding Anger, as ego is not the answer to getting the job done when it comes to a mutual beneficial decision.

5. Firing is not always the answer- if business needs it, but culture doesn’t allow it. Maybe there is a graceful way to make your long term employee happy with a minuscule dent on operating expenses. Eg ERIP

#bookreview #bookstagram #booklover #businessbooks #bookrecommendations #learning #growthmindset #instareads #businessstrategy #companyculture #sears

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  • Kathleen Freeland
  • 21-12-18

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

6 people found this helpful

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  • Keith
  • 07-01-19

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.

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  • Eugenia
  • 07-01-19

Thankful To Don Katz For Audible

I am a huge Audible fan, so I hesitate somehow to equate this book with the CEO of my Audible obsession. But, sorry, this book was so not for me with endless dull descriptions and goings-on of people and business that I didn't understand, along with a narrator whose monotone style lulled me to sleep.

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  • Stephanie
  • 11-03-21

A tale of corporate history

A detailed yet complicated account of the history of Sears and the stories of the families involved.

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  • mike s.
  • 12-01-21

Who knew I would love this book?

I never knew I wanted to read a book about Sears and corporate America, but I sure loved the hell out of this book.
Brilliant voice actor.

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  • miss alabama
  • 13-12-19

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.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-11-19

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!!

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  • Prakash
  • 16-06-19

fantastic

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

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-01-19

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.

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  • john
  • 24-08-22

it was a fine book, but not super interesting 🤷🏻

most likely could have been said in about half the time. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of retail.