SEARS EXECUTIVE #1: Boy, things are not looking good for us. We’ve been in decline for years, we’ve sold off some of our marquee brands such as Craftsman, and now we’d had to admit in an SEC filing that there’s “substantial doubt” we can continue as a company.
SEARS EXECUTIVE #2: Where did we go wrong? We were once one of America’s premier brands, the Amazon and Wal-mart of our-
MCDONALDS MANAGER: Hey, you need to buy something if you’re going to hang out here. Seats are for paying customers only.
EXEC #1: Hey, I bought this drink!
MANAGER: That’s a commemorative tie-in cup from the 1992 Summer Olympics. It’s got Chris Mullin on it.
EXEC #1: And I paid for it.
MANAGER: Please leave.
[later, back at the failing mall]
EXEC #2: We were the Wal-Mart of our day! People bought everything at Sears. Appliances, tools, financial products, housewares and underwear!
EXEC #1: The internet was always coming for us. Sure, for a time we could hold off. Only young people were shopping online. Older customers were afraid of the internet. But once they realized the internet was a place where you could scream at newspapers without even putting a coat on, our goose was cooked.
EXEC #2: We’ve got to do something dramatic. We once had our name on America’s tallest building. We can’t risk going the way of such failed American icons as Pan Am, Blockbuster Video, Texas Longhorns football or democracy!
EXEC #1: We need to learn how to survive. How to get leaner, nimbler. How to function when you’ve got nothing. When no one cares about you. When all hope is lost.
EXEC #2: Wait... I think I might know just who to talk to. C’mon, follow me.
[they weave through the mall, past the sunglass hut and the Bombay Company store, down into a forgotten, abandoned wing. Light peeks through dirt-caked skylights, and a figure can be seen in the darkness, chopping wood]
FIGURE: Leave me alone. It’s not my season.
EXEC #1: We need your help.
FIGURE: Didn’t you hear me? I’m out of the game. [chops log]
EXEC #2: You’re the only one we can turn to. Sears needs you.
[silence, more chopping]
EXEC #2: We’ll let you take any discount athletic wear you want from the store.
[the figure steps into the light]
PURDUE SANTA: I’m in.
EXEC #1: We need to know how you do it. You should’ve disappeared a decade ago. No one’s cared a whit about you, but you’re still here. Tell us how you survive.
PURDUE SANTA: Well first, moneybags, cut out those extravagances. [gestures toward the Chris Mullin cup]. Don’t need to be buyin’ those name-brand pops when you’re living light. Me? I make my own Pepsi. [holds up half a basketball, full of rainwater and old batteries] Now, [sips from basketball] tell me this. How much are you paying for overhead lighting?
EXEC #2: I don’t know, maybe $20,000 a-
PURDUE SANTA: [produces handgun, shoots hole in ceiling]
PURDUE SANTA: Daylight’s free, boys. It’s nature’s two-star recruit. Ain’t got no offers better than comin’ in through a hole in the roof.
EXEC #1: What if it rains?
PURDUE SANTA: Free Pepsi. That’s just a value-add, fellas. Now, let’s talk branding.
EXEC #2: Well, I think that’s one of our strongest suits, the Sears and Roebuck name stretches back over a centu-
PURDUE SANTA: [holding up red-hot branding iron] not what I meant, sonny. You want loyal customers, put your name on ‘em.
EXEC #2: I don’t think that would endear us to our customers, it sounds extremely painful.
PURDUE SANTA: [holding branding iron by hot end, not flinching] Pain shows you care. You think people root for a mediocre football team by choice? Nah. They’re just born somewhere and you mark a claim on ‘em before they know what’s good for ‘em.
EXEC #1: Look, I’m starting to think this whole thing was a mistake. Maybe we’ll just sell off more assets and close some more underperforming stores, focus on developing a more robust online presence, streamline around our legacy brands-
PURDUE SANTA: [shoots hole in ceiling]
PURDUE SANTA: Sorry, thought I saw a pigeon. Those things are great marinated in Pepsi and cooked over a Sunglass Hut fire.
EXEC #1: We should go.
PURDUE SANTA: No, listen. I get where you’re coming from. You’ve got a long, proud history and not a lot to show for it lately. People may have forgotten about you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care and wouldn’t be glad to see you succeed again. You’ve just got to remind them why they loved you in the first place. Remind them of the good times. Take Drew Brees -
EXEC #2: I don’t think we have an analogue to Drew Brees.
PURDUE SANTA: No, I mean literally, take Drew Brees. Dude’ll endorse anything. Drew, come on out here, I got a job for you.
DREW BREES: Kenmore appliances are a touchdown, and I should know. [throws football] [sound of glass breaking in distance]
EXEC #1: Wow! But why is he willing to-
PURDUE SANTA: He owes me. You ain’t gonna spend your whole life in Texas, Indiana and New Orleans without needing someone to hide a body for you now and then.
[everyone looks awkwardly at the Santa’s Village display for a moment]
PURDUE SANTA: I can get Kyle Orton too, if you need.