back to article We've reached the endgame: Bezos 'in talks' to turn shuttered department stores into Amazon warehouses

Amazon is reportedly in talks with realtors to buy and remake the US locations of bankrupt Sears and JC Penney into Amazon fulfillment centers. The Wall Street Journal cites sources familiar in reporting that Simon Property Group, a commercial retailer specializing in mall locations, was in talks with the Bezos' bunch to sell …

  1. Captain Obvious
    Unhappy

    Now would be the time

    To open a fast food restaurant in the mall 24 hour service to support all of those employees. Wish I could afford to do this :(

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Now would be the time

      Like Amazon employees have enough money for fast food.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Jeff for me!

    Just ordered another 15 items/packages on Ali. Will wait between 30-60 days for delivery, but the price is usually 1/3 of that on Amazon.

    1. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

      Re: No Jeff for me!

      As long as it was non-critical enough that returning defective products doesn't matter.

  3. General Purpose

    Coming soon

    These sites will be ideal for Amazon's next cost-cutting initiative, in which they get rid of half their warehouse staff by offering Amazon Pick-Your-Own.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      1. Chris G

        Re: Coming soon

        And millions will think it's a cool way to shop!

        1. General Purpose

          Re: Coming soon

          Amazon will still have to find a way to deliver people from their homes to the sites. Drones, maybe?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Coming soon

            Nah, cardboard boxes. The ones I get SD cards delivered in are sometimes almost big enough. Occasionally they remind me of HP.

            1. Troy Tempest
              Pint

              Re: Coming soon

              As a recipient of many HP spates I readily lsugh and vote that comment up

            2. katrinab Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: Coming soon

              Yes. Ordered a USB-charger adapter for an iPaq about 15 years ago. It was about 1.5cm x 3cm x 0.5cm. Normal people would put that in an A6 jiffy bag. HP taped it to the bottom of a box big enough to take a Proliant Server. Delivery driver thought he had been given an empty box to deliver and had the "report damaged delivery" form ready for me.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Coming soon

                I remember speccing a Proliant with a tape drive some years back. The HP configuration builder stated that I needed to order a cable to connect the tape drive to the server.

                When the parts finally arrived, not only did I find that the tape drive already included the required cable, but the surplus cable I was told I needed actually came in a larger box than the tape drive (and cable).

                Absurd.

            3. not.known@this.address

              Re: Coming soon

              HP have a huge stock of big cardboard boxes. Why waste time and effort remanufacturing big boxes into smaller boxes when you can use the big boxes just as easily? It may look silly, but if the cost of shipping a large, practically empty box is less expensive - and more importantly, far less harmful to the environment - than recycling all those big boxes into smaller ones, then surely it makes sense to use the box as it is and let the consumer recycle it when it has been used?

              1. Hero Protagonist
                Holmes

                Re: Coming soon

                And here I was thinking that boxes could be manufactured in a variety of sizes. Today I learned that all boxes start life as Proliant server boxes, and smaller boxes are “recycled” from those.

                (Edit: rereading the post I replied to, I can’t tell now whether the the OP was joking or serious.)

            4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

              Re: Coming soon

              There used to be a regular article in one of the old print trade newspapers (Computer Weekly?) where they highlighted the absurd packaging of some companies.

              1. Mark 78

                Re: Coming soon

                I think there have been plenty of stories on El Reg documenting this, although I do seem to remember Computer Weekly (or similar) doing articles. This Register one was from 2008, I doubt things have changed much:

                https://www.theregister.com/2008/07/18/hp_packaging/

                1. AMBxx Silver badge

                  Re: Coming soon

                  Wasn't there one where some manuals were delivered individually on wooden pallets?

                  1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                    Re: Coming soon

                    The Digital VMS full manual set did require a pallet, I'm not sure where the pallet/box cutover was when ordering individual books from the telephone directory sized parts catalog.

                    1. katrinab Silver badge
                      Flame

                      Re: Coming soon

                      The cut-over is two sheets of paper, each individually boxed in a proliant box.

                  2. jelabarre59

                    Re: Coming soon

                    Wasn't there one where some manuals were delivered individually on wooden pallets?

                    They got clever and started delivering documentation on CD/DVD. Just in time for computer makers to stop providing optical drives in the machines they sell...

          2. Robert Grant

            Re: Coming soon

            They are investigating drones, I think.

            1. SotarrTheWizard
              Mushroom

              Drones, you say ??

              But enough about the workers in the Amazon Distribution Hives, excuse me, Fulfillment Centers. . . (grin)

    2. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Coming soon

      I was thinking more along the lines of "If you have a warehouse in a retail area, you might as well have a counter there so people can do pickups for common items instead of waiting for delivery".

      There we go, I've just invented Argos.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Coming soon

        Or fortold it's imminent death!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Coming soon

        The Argos order-at-the-counter is only the way-stage to making attractive displays of goods round the warehouse and letting customers wander around, pick up what they like and just pay at the counter.

        1. logicalextreme

          Re: Coming soon

          The only thing that could make that better would be free pencils!

    3. Scene it all

      Re: Coming soon

      Maybe put in a Whole Foods store with each one, just like Walmart has a food section.

  4. Timo

    Catalog pick-up locations

    In the 70's both Sears and JCPenney had catalog pick-up locations. I guess because shipping was so expensive. You'd order something from the catalog (!) and it would ship to the closest pickup spot. Where I grew up there was a small pick-up spot in town.

    You have to remember that Sears or JCPenney carried every product on the planet, many more than would fit in a store.

    So it made me laugh when the ecompanies started putting in pickup kioscs. It was just like the old days.

    1. parlei

      Re: Catalog pick-up locations

      For extra deja vu points remember that Sears, Roebuck & Co started out as a mail order company (in 1893), adding stores after about 30 years (1925). Amazon was founded in 1994, I wonder if they will wait until 2026 to open their first retail store...

      1. RM Myers
        Unhappy

        wait until 2026 to open their first retail store...

        Nope! https://www.amazon.com/find-your-store/b/?node=17608448011

        1. parlei

          Re: wait until 2026 to open their first retail store...

          The pleasing symmetry was obviously not as important as profits. Can't actually blame them, but I *like* finding such patterns.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Catalog pick-up locations

      We have Argos that does the same thing. They still exist but are moving from standalone stores to having a corner of Sainsburys (food supermarket) as their collection point.

      1. Waspy

        Re: Catalog pick-up locations

        yep, but Sainsbury's own Argos so the brand remains as long as Sainsbury's see fit to keep it alive. Reports suggest there's a price mismatch between what you can buy in Sainsbury's and Argos so I am wondering how long the current arrangement will continue

    3. a_yank_lurker

      Re: Catalog pick-up locations

      The real irony is Amazon's business is essentially the old Sears catalog except online. Of course Amazon can carry more products than Sears ever did. It does makes sense for someone to repurpose the empty retail space into something. If Amazon bought the soon to be vacant Sears store near me I could literally walk to them. That would add another delivery option for me which I might use.

      1. jelabarre59

        Re: Catalog pick-up locations

        The real irony is Amazon's business is essentially the old Sears catalog except online. Of course Amazon can carry more products than Sears ever did.

        Sears could have carried as much as they wanted on a functional online store; I expect the limitations on how much they could carry really came down to how much they could catalog (in more ways than one).

        It is ironic that Sears couldn't make it in an online world. Had they managed to keep the catalog division running a few years more, they might have easily made the transition. After all, online shopping is just a bigger, more flexible version of a printed catalog, with the benefit of being constantly updatable. The back-end of stock management, shipping, billing, etc would have been much the same as before.

        But in the end, a big part of their failure comes down to three letters; M B A.

  5. hoola Silver badge

    All well and good

    If this transfers to the UK then they should be paying standard retail business rates and rents.

    Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen as they will call them "distribution centres" or such like and you will have the lunacy of Amazon paying a quarter of the overheads that a standard retailer does in a unit next door.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: All well and good

      @hoola

      "Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen as they will call them "distribution centres" or such like and you will have the lunacy of Amazon paying a quarter of the overheads that a standard retailer does in a unit next door."

      Is that a bad thing? And for the standard retailer next door is he being shafted by Amazon or punitive business rates and rents?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That was a surprise...

        Saw the comment, came across as a typical example of a free-marketeering Yank using tax-dodging inequality as an excuse to push their usual talking point that the real solution is for *everyone* to be paying low or nonexistent race-to-the-bottom tax rates.

        Just as I was about to scroll the page up a bit so I could see the username and check the comment history to see if I was right... I thought "or maybe it's codejunky".

        Yep, it was everyone's favourite UK-resident Yank-style free marketeer fanboy.

        Hi Codejunky!

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: That was a surprise...

          @AC

          I accept the complement. Glad to be recognised as free market instead of one of those collapsed state approaches.

          I do take issue with one thing-

          "free-marketeering Yank using tax-dodging inequality as an excuse to push their usual talking point that the real solution is for *everyone* to be paying low or nonexistent race-to-the-bottom tax rates."

          How is paying less a problem? So far the concept of paying less has dragged people out of poverty for a considerable time since peasantry. If rents and tax are destroying businesses then reducing them would be one way to support business, especially smaller businesses. Town centres being gutted by rents and tax and imposing increasing costs on people pushed people to online much quicker where lower rents on a warehouse and delivering is a better option.

          The opposite of low tax rates is high tax rates. And who wants the latter? (the answer is the people who dont have to pay them)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: That was a surprise...

            See what I mean? Even after being called out on it, you still can't help parlaying that into an excuse to have the discussion *you* want on the terms that suit you, a vehicle to get your dogmatic Tax Is Evil talking points in.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: That was a surprise...

              @AC

              "See what I mean? Even after being called out on it, you still can't help parlaying that into an excuse to have the discussion *you* want"

              Eh? I responded to your comment. Replying to what you said. If you dont want to discuss it dont mention it (especially when you are replying to me already saying this).

              Are you the same AC who looked like an idiot last time too?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: That was a surprise...

                "I responded to your comment"

                Comment wasn't inviting you to continue your "Tax Is Evil" spiel, it was about the fact you'd *already* hijacked the conversation for your own purposes in the first place(!)

                "If you dont want to discuss it"

                I intentionally didn't reply to your points because it would have been playing into your hands re: the aforementioned conversation hijacking.

                Hope that makes it clear.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: That was a surprise...

                  @AC

                  "Comment wasn't inviting you to continue your "Tax Is Evil" spiel, it was about the fact you'd *already* hijacked the conversation for your own purposes in the first place(!)"

                  So your a moron?

                  >Original comment mentions the disparity of rents for standard retailer vs distribution centre and I agree with them pointing out the problem being the over taxing not under-taxing.

                  >You respond claiming race to the bottom waawaa I want my dummy.

                  >I respond lower costs are better than higher costs.

                  >You complain I responded to your comment because *still waiting on a reason*

                  Advice- if you dont want someone to respond to your comment dont post a comment. If you dont want a reply to your comment dont reply to a comment. If your too fragile for this world maybe AC isnt enough to protect your feelings of self importance.

                  "I intentionally didn't reply to your points"

                  So your not only AC but your intention was to be an intelligence vacuum to the conversation by adding nothing (and even failing at that).

                  "the aforementioned conversation hijacking"

                  Where I respond on topic to the commenter I was replying to. And as a dumbass you complain? You dont have to respond, you choose to. Sometimes its better to be quiet and people think your an idiot than to say something and prove it.

                  However: If by any chance you are still in school/college I am sorry for being so hard on you. I am adding this not in an attempt to insult but the way your following the thread suggests you may not have much life experience but this is something that will change over time and I am sorry for calling you stupid and dumbass in place of a lack of experience. If you are an adult then yes you are a dumbass

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: That was a surprise...

                    "So your a moron?"

                    Two points; (a) Simply calling me an "idiot" or a "moron" doesn't make it so if it doesn't follow logically from what I said, and (b) If you're going to insult someone's intelligence, it's a good idea not to be the one making grammatical errors such as "your [sic] a moron".

                    Also, in your earlier post, I think you meant "compliment", not "complement". It's an easy mistake to make... if you're a "moron". :-)

                    "I am adding this not in an attempt to insult but the way your following the thread suggests you may not have much life experience"

                    Nah, that's definitely a passive-aggressive/backhanded insult. But, er... nice try!

                    "your intention was to be an intelligence vacuum to the conversation by adding nothing"

                    We're having a conversation, just not the one *you* wanted to turn it into. Sorry for not playing along... wait, no, I'm not sorry for that at all! :-)

                    "the way your [sic] following the thread [..] If you are an adult then yes you are a dumbass"

                    But at least I'm not illiterate!

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: That was a surprise...

                      @AC

                      "Two points; (a) Simply calling me an "idiot" or a "moron" doesn't make it so"

                      I know. That is why my reply to you explains clearly why you are a moron. A whole comment addressing how your an AC who doesnt even seem to be following the thread you are responding to.

                      "If you're going to insult someone's intelligence, it's a good idea not to be the one making grammatical errors such as "your [sic] a moron"."

                      Sorry not an english graduate, dyslexia did me no favours there. But if thats the best example you have to invalidate my entire comment explaining what an idiot you appear to be I can remain confident in my assessment.

                      "Nah, that's definitely a passive-aggressive/backhanded insult. But, er... nice try!"

                      Actually I was trying not to be too harsh on you if you are a school kid. Literally excusing you from being an idiot or moron if you are a kid.

                      "We're having a conversation"

                      About what? so far you seem to be complaining I am responding to your comments that you didnt intend to mean anything of value. How about you start again from the beginning. What is your point? Do you have a point? Are you just a troll?

                      "Sorry for not playing along... wait, no, I'm not sorry for that at all! :-)"

                      Moron cant even make up its own mind. Although a popular saying amongst kids.

                      "But at least I'm not illiterate!"

                      Then why cant you follow the conversation you say we are having? Really it is difficult holding a conversation with someone who cant follow what they have already said

  6. Real Ale is Best
    Black Helicopters

    The truth...

    Amazon developed Covid-19 as a final plan to abolish all other retail and become the world's sole supplier.

    #tinfoilhat

    1. Chris G

      Re: The truth...

      SShhhh! The loonies will hear you!

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The truth...

      Ah HA!

  7. MJI Silver badge

    I didn't realish Yankish was so different.

    I THINK I understand this article.

    Is it something about Amazon buying old shopping arcades?

    WTF is a realtor.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: I didn't realish Yankish was so different.

      Estate Agent close as doesn't matter.

    2. a_yank_lurker

      Re: I didn't realish Yankish was so different.

      US shopping malls have anchor stores that are usually owned by the retailer. These are typically large department stores. The mall owner then rents smaller stores to other retailers. The idea is the anchors will draw in enough foot traffic that the other retailers will do well. In the US, the retail space is overbuilt with many malls struggling or even closing as US shopping habits change. While Amazon is often blamed for this, they are more a symptom than a cause. The changes were happening before Amazon and online shopping came on the scene.

      1. jelabarre59

        Re: I didn't realish Yankish was so different.

        Yes, the MBAs were already well into the destroy-all-companies trend well before online shopping came along. Online shopping ended up being a way *around* the shit service being provided by stores.

        Way back when, Mad Magazine used to do these spoof cartoons about how some business or another could go out of their way to provide crap service. Seems the MBAs thought they were instruction manuals rather than parody.

        (I also think the change in tax laws that changed unsold merchandise/backstock from liabilities to assets didn't help either).

  8. ecofeco Silver badge

    What's new is old again

    Sears anyone?

  9. Joe Gurman

    The heyday

    .... of Sears was probably the 1940s, before discount department store chains such as E.J. Korvets and Zayre’s exploded onto the scene. Sears still served the heartland, where such discount operations hadn’t taken hold yet, and people everywhere in the US shipped at Sears for tools and major appliances, but the dominance Sears once had in American retail was pretty much a thing of the past by 1960.

  10. fidodogbreath

    Endgame

    Eddie Lampert has done more to kill Sears than Jeff Bezos.

    Similarly, JC Penney blew itself up by hiring an Apple Store exec who did not understand JCP's business or customers, who then set himself to the task of alienating the latter from the former. JCP wasn't healthy when Ron Johnson got there, but he put it into a full-on death spiral.

    Amazon has definnitely blown up plenty of brick & mortar; but in these specific cases, Bezos is more of a scavenger than a hunter.

  11. D Moss Esq
  12. slimshady76
    Big Brother

    Wall-E would be proud!

    Amazon is just a few acquisition away from renaming to Buy n' Large!

  13. skeptical i
    Meh

    more convenient access for Amazon sla-, er, employees

    The sprawling warehouses required by online retailers can only be sited on ginormous empty (or empty-able) parcels often out at the ass end of nowhere, way beyond the last transit stop. Re-purposing empty mall anchor space as warehouses at least has the potential to put these ... jobs ... within reach of folks who do not have cars. Not that I at all support how Amazon't treats its employees, but if municipalities will continue to fall all over themselves to lure Bezo-Marts to their jurisdictions in the name of "creating jobs" then the jobs should at least be accessible to those who might need them most.

  14. Robert Sneddon

    Access

    Most US malls of any substantial size, the sorts with a giant anchor store at one end, are surrounded by hectares of car parks while at the same time not being served by public transport particularly well. In the US many people working minimum-wage jobs own cars to get to work because the car is a necessity. Amazon pay a little more than minimum-wage, typically and for the rest there are always Bezos buses.

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