Sears Holdings Corp CEO Eddie Lampert has stepped in to contribute towards a financing package of between US$500 million and US$600 million that the U.S. department store operator was close to securing on Sunday (Oct 14) to fund operations during bankruptcy proceedings, people familiar with the matter said.
The company once dominated the American landscape, but whether a smaller Sears can be viable remains in question.
It joins a growing list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidated in the last two years amid a fiercely competitive climate.
Given its sheer size, Sears' bankruptcy filing will have wide ripple effects on everything from already ailing landlords to its tens of thousands of workers.
At its peak, Sears sold everything from toys to auto parts to mail-order homes, and was a key tenant in nearly every big mall across the United States.
The company was started by Richard Sears, a train station agent in Minnesota who began selling watches by mail in 1886, according to the company's website.
Under Lampert, the company saw a $1.5 billion profit in 2015, but it's been downhill ever since.
The most recent filing from Sears showed it had only $193 million in cash on hand as of August 4, the end of its last fiscal quarter.
"As we look toward the holiday season, Sears and Kmart stores remain open for business and our dedicated associates look forward to serving our members and customers".
Lampert tried multiple strategies to revive Sears since using the Kmart chain to acquire Sears in 2005, sometimes with his own money. The original Kmart store in Garden City closed past year.
Analysts have speculated for years that Sears was a sinking ship.
In 2008, the company employed 302,000 people, but that figure has fallen to just 68,000, according to the New York Times. Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s iconic catalog featured items from bicycles to sewing machines to houses, and could generate excitement throughout a household when it arrived. Sears faced even more competition from online sellers and appliance retailers like Lowe's and Home Depot.