Thread Number: 73505  /  Tag: Modern Automatic Washers
The Kenmore name
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Post# 970774   11/30/2017 at 12:03 (297 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

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Does anyone know, or willing to guess what will happen to the Kenmore name if Sears were to go out of business? Would Whirlpool buy it up and use it or will the name just disappear? Personally I think the name should remain in some format. Whirlpool should continue to use the name for an average yet feature packed consumer line with the Elite name used for TOLs. If Whirlpool plays it right, they could gain a lot from the name like the did with Maytag.

Post# 970780 , Reply# 1   11/30/2017 at 12:55 (296 days old) by RevvinKevin (So. Cal.)        

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Dead and gone for ever, once Sears is dead and gone for ever.


(just a guess........)



Post# 970800 , Reply# 2   11/30/2017 at 14:24 (296 days old) by washerdude (Canada )        

Sears shut its doors here.
All Kenmores are gone.

Post# 970801 , Reply# 3   11/30/2017 at 14:34 (296 days old) by jkbff (Happy Rock, ND)        

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Last I heard, speculation was Sears Holdings will sell the names to someone willing to keep things going the way they are.

That being said, I could see Sears holdings liquidating all of their real estate holdings and just keeping the names going and finding distribution channels like mom and pop shops to floor them.

Post# 970802 , Reply# 4   11/30/2017 at 14:54 (296 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I don't know if Whirlpool has any say in the matter anymore since Sears dumped them and started putting the Kenmore badge on Korean-made appliances instead.

Post# 970809 , Reply# 5   11/30/2017 at 15:51 (296 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

Kenmore is still a huge name in the appliance world. I'd think Sears would sell the name to the highest bidder.

After all, names like Maytag, Kelvinator, Frigidaire, Amana and Speed Queen are still with us under different corporate ownership.

Post# 970811 , Reply# 6   11/30/2017 at 16:04 (296 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

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All good guesses. I just hope the name lives on.

Post# 970813 , Reply# 7   11/30/2017 at 16:26 (296 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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My best speculation: the name will live on one way or another. I've thought it likely that it will end up being sold off. Although the idea above about Sears living on with no Sears stores and sales through other retail channels seems possible, too.


A few moments ago, I entertained myself with the thought of WP buying Kenmore...and immediately writing a letter to LG informing them effective immediately their services will no longer be needed. Although I wonder if WP could buy Kenmore. WP seems too big as it is...although the current Republican control of the US government does make this a big business friendly time, so WP might be able to grow more.


I also hate to say this...but, while I think the Kenmore name will likely survive, I see a real possibility that we may just wish it had gone away. Depending on who has the brand and what they do, I could see a real possibility that Kenmore could end up being a brand that makes WCI Frigidaire look good...

Post# 970819 , Reply# 8   11/30/2017 at 17:06 (296 days old) by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        
KENMORE, the not-so-friendly-ghost!

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You're gonna get those ghastly, wavy lines underneath the name, and in those freaky-looking large letters--that, alone, is one reason why the name can just go the way of Norge, Thor, and Gibson (not the guitar manufacturer)...

-- Dave

Post# 970822 , Reply# 9   11/30/2017 at 17:23 (296 days old) by eronie (Flushing Michigan)        

Where did Montgomery Wards Signature go by by...

Post# 970824 , Reply# 10   11/30/2017 at 17:28 (296 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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Sears did put "Kenmore" up on the block for sale some time ago but there were no takers at the price they were asking. I would imagine that someone (Haier, Midea, etc.) would snap it up at fire-sale prices once Sears is closer to the end of their death rattle.

Post# 970826 , Reply# 11   11/30/2017 at 17:33 (296 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
Montgomery Ward Signature

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Tony, don't ask where; just be thankful. 


Here's hoping the answer to your question is, a black hole whence it shall never return.

Post# 970827 , Reply# 12   11/30/2017 at 17:42 (296 days old) by appnut (TX)        
Announced July 20, 2017

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Amazon to sell Kenmore brand appliances. 


Post# 970830 , Reply# 13   11/30/2017 at 18:15 (296 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Kenmore brand name

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Has huge goodwill attached, this despite what that current idiot owner of Sears Holdings has done to things. It could be, and likely would sell as part of any bankruptcy proceedings or other liquidation. Only question is at what price.

Rights to the Pan Am trademarks and name were sold at auction and now grace a railroad.

Thor of course has been resurrected and slapped onto Asian made laundry appliances.

Post# 970845 , Reply# 14   11/30/2017 at 19:45 (296 days old) by pierreandreply4 (St-Bruno de montarville (province of quebec) canada)        

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not sure but I think they went to sell the Kenmore brand on amazon

Post# 970850 , Reply# 15   11/30/2017 at 20:14 (296 days old) by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

My guess is that kenmore gets affiliated with amazon somehow

Post# 971038 , Reply# 16   12/1/2017 at 22:30 (295 days old) by IowaBear (Cedar Rapids, IA)        
My bet is that the Kenmore name will live on

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Brands, even long dead ones, seem to be worth something in the USA.


I was surprised to see "Westinghouse", "Polaroid", "RCA" and other long-dead consumer brands resurrected a few years ago on imported goods by otherwise unrecognizable manufacturers.


And the Montgomery Ward name lives on today as an unrelated Internet retailer.  I'd love to see the demographics of their customer base...older folks who remember the Wards name fondly?


And since Kenmore was never a manufacturer itself it doesn't even seem as misleading!


Sears must have had some enormous power back in the day.  As a kid I remember their Atari and Intellivision video games were all re-branded as "Sears Tele-games."

Post# 971043 , Reply# 17   12/1/2017 at 22:56 (295 days old) by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

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I remember someone saying they thought Lowes would get the Kenmore brand. Though, I think Amazon would be appropriate, since they are basically the modern day Sears catalog, they could even start an in-home Home Central repair service.

Post# 971053 , Reply# 18   12/2/2017 at 01:16 (295 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Sears "Power"

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Such as it was came on a few fronts.

They had stores nearly everywhere from cost to coast. Then there was their famous catalog which often worked hand in hand with retail locations.

Where Sears really had a killing was with their credit card. One of the main reasons Kenmore appliances were in "more homes than....." was because people bought the things on credit from Sears. Of course there was much more than that; clothing, household furnishing, tools, automotive, etc.... All could go on the card.

Because Sears could move much merchandise they did have "power" I suppose. Rather like the walmart of their time. Because they placed such huge orders with Whirlpool or whoever, they could dictate many conditions.

No, Sears didn't build their own appliances, but they were known for quality and often matched or were better in that area and features than their national branded cousins.

Go back though the years and look at Consumer Reports reviews of say washing machines or dryers. You'll often see that the Kenmore version of this or that Whirlpool or whatever was just as highly rated or maybe slightly better.

Sears didn't just source appliances from manufacturers, but had very strict contractual guidelines and production parameters. IIRC things weren't just taken off a line and a "Kenmore" name slapped on; but a plant would stop and run nothing but this or that Kenmore appliance until an order was filled.

Post# 971069 , Reply# 19   12/2/2017 at 04:46 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

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@Panthera: They know what they were doing, and it has to be the most genius win-win-win marketing scheme in the history of the planet. Honestly, I think Whirlpool even deliberately choose to let Kenmore do the selling, as I remember Whirlpool machines of that same time always had a tacky and confusing control panel. Something about them just did not resonate, but when you saw Kenmore out in the open, you wanted to buy one. Even their sales floor was set up to have Kenmore up in front, while Whirlpool and GE were jack knifed to one side sometimes dimly lit (no spots or floods).

I remember the hardest thing was buying a BOL anything. The sales guys would stop at nothing to get you to take a model several steps up. I think it had something to do with limited or not earning commission, but to me it was one of those things that soured my view of Sears. I know what I want, especially when it will get turned into a Franken-machine, hate being dictated to. Walked out and had the local appliance guy drop a used BOL Roper.

Post# 971075 , Reply# 20   12/2/2017 at 05:49 (295 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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It wouldn't surprise me if LG bought the name.  They got Zenith a few years back.

Post# 971086 , Reply# 21   12/2/2017 at 06:31 (295 days old) by superocd (PNW)        
they still do the hard sell at Sears...

Sears still seems to push people from BOL to MOL/TOL, and they REALLY want you to buy the extended warranty. When I purchased my LG/Kenmore TOL steam front loader, which was a discontinued clearance floor model, I was going to buy the matching dryer until I learned that I could get a "free" one due to the fact that Sears offered 50% back in rewards on clearance floor models. The BOL model would have been paid for by the points I earned on the washer. So, I opted for the venerable 29" Whirlpool-built BOL Kenmore because I'm cheap and I believe a dryer is a dryer, unlike a washer.

After turning down the extended warranty, the salesperson tried to convince me that the dryer I wanted to buy was "cheap" in not a good way. After establishing that I did not want to buy the LG/Kenmore FL dryer, she tried to get me to buy an upper-MOL Kenmore 29", where if I did, I would pay $200 out of pocket after redeeming the points versus settling for the same dryer (only with less cycles and a different control panel) for free after redeeming the points from the washer. Like I said before, a dryer is a dryer, I am not as picky like with everything else (like wanting a radiant convection range), and it just came down to a few extra dials on a different control panel. Not worth it to me.

She tried to tell me that the MOL Kenmore had more features. True, but then she went on to say that the build quality was better and that the one I wanted was a little "flimsy". I told her, politely, that these things have been produced with very little changes for what, 40-50 years, so Whirlpool surely must have "gotten it" by now and that all of the 29" top filter models are the same thing underneath (and not-so-underneath), just some have different control panels and different cycles. I clued her in on the design of the drum, the placement of the lint filter and even the door, all of was identical between the two. Told her I could swap control panels between the two in half an hour and she would never notice. A minute later, I had the stockroom guys pulling the TOL KM FL off the floor and pulling a new BOL KM dryer out of the stockroom and loading it into my truck.

When I went to Lowe's to buy my MOL Whirlpool fridge, DW, range and MH, it was as simple as saying what I wanted to buy. Saying no to the extended warranty was as easy as a simple no thanks. It was like I was getting my morning coffee.

I want to like Sears since they have great products but it seems like they are more aggressive in their selling practices. I always seem to have to participate in a mini-seminar on their credit card at checkout every time I go in to buy something. I've noticed that other stores never seem to ask you to sign up for a card, even though those stores have their own cards.

Post# 971097 , Reply# 22   12/2/2017 at 07:13 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
It was those practices

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That drove Sears into the ground. Another one was not letting you pay UNTIL you opened up a card. Which you just mentioned. I am the type of person who knows more than the rest of the store in management, the product I am buying and about a dozen other things. Not just me, but many, many others. What I say goes- and it is final. Even worse when I have to confess to the store what I am REALLY going to do with said machine. Which sometimes gets met with me being insane. Hey- you want to make money? Look at it like this: Customer is always right!

Post# 971099 , Reply# 23   12/2/2017 at 07:18 (295 days old) by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        

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Chetleham, were Kenmores really that better looking? Maybe in the 60's - early 70s but I didn't think the black "Star Wars" panels were that attractive.

Except for the Limited Edition in 1986. When painted black, the set almost said "Darth Vader, here is your laundry equipment."

Post# 971102 , Reply# 24   12/2/2017 at 07:52 (295 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
The Kenmore Name

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I have been saying for years that Lowes or maybe HD will buy the name, and now maybe Amazon ?


Whirlpool would likley be blocked from using the KM name, WP already had to quit the KA name on W&Ds when they bought the MT name do to having to large a market share in laundry sales.


John L.

Post# 971109 , Reply# 25   12/2/2017 at 08:34 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        
Better looking

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IMO- YES! Whirlpool lost me with the coloring and cluttered look, the dull looking panels prior, and the 'average' look in the 80s. Kenmore stood out- the wood grain top was popular like the rest of the wood grains in the 80s- and everything just seemed more organized. Same with the 90s, just stood out more.

Post# 971111 , Reply# 26   12/2/2017 at 08:49 (295 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        
Cluttered WP Panels

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Interesting perspective.  Can you provide pics of some examples you consider to be unsightly?

Post# 971134 , Reply# 27   12/2/2017 at 11:48 (295 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

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Sure, here are a few along those lines:

This version really erks me for some reason:

To many shades of gray:

First the control panels look like some type of advertisement. Things like motor speed/combinations (basically mentioned twice), accuwash, ect stick out and are written in bigger, darker lettering than the actual cycles. Second it look like a trillion things are going on in the main knob- my eyes don't know where to land- and these things don't even have detents (dedicated starting marks) on them. To much dull grey as well with random "offs" in red. Over all there is nothing visually pleasant or eye catching.

Kenmore is the exact opposite. Machine descriptions down low and small- cycles in the biggest letters, wash time (super, short, ect) next in size, followed by rinse and spin with detents and finally off in the smallest and dullest font. Fewer shades of the same color.

80s models were better on the Whirlpool side, but still Kenmore was more pleasing.

Post# 971140 , Reply# 28   12/2/2017 at 12:37 (294 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Control panel Designs

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I will take the WP panels any day, I always though that MT and KM did not offer nearly enough information as what settings actually did etc.

In my forty+ years selling and servicing laundry appliances I never had a customer complain about too much information.

John L.

Post# 971141 , Reply# 29   12/2/2017 at 12:40 (294 days old) by chetlaham (United States)        

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Of course, thats because people just don't buy it. Who buys something they know they will not like? If this was the other way around I know the argument will be 'remember Kenmore sold 10x what Whirlpool did so that might have been another a potential factor'

Post# 971816 , Reply# 30   12/5/2017 at 22:26 (291 days old) by man114 (Buffalo)        

Eddie Lampert has spun off a few of the brands into Sears Brand Management LLC. What'll happen is he'll keep the retails section open long enough, through store closing that he can totally remove these assets from the retail operation. This if/when Sears closes these brands will be an independent entity that can be sold, license the name like Emerson Radio Corp. etc.

That's how Sears delivering has become "innovel" even though it still is technically owned by SHLD.

Kenmore will survive in some fashion.

Post# 971818 , Reply# 31   12/5/2017 at 22:42 (291 days old) by IowaBear (Cedar Rapids, IA)        

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You made a good point about Kenmore appliances being functionally different and/or better.  Which is different from some of the Sears brands for non-appliances I was thinking of, which were more or less just re-brands.


I wonder how this actually happened inside Sears.  Did they have a special group of buyers that worked with Whirlpool engineers directly?  Or did Whirlpool just create additional features/designs in advance knowing that Sears would demand something to differentiate the Kenmore versions?  Hard to imagine Sears employing appliance design engineers themselves, but times were different then (corporations didn't outsource everything) and Kenmore was a huge brand.


Would be interesting to know how this worked, both in their heyday and today.

Post# 971823 , Reply# 32   12/5/2017 at 23:48 (291 days old) by johnb300m (Chicago)        

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Iowabear, I applied to a few Sears Engineering jobs several years ago. And got good advice not to pursue them.
Sears did have something of an internal engineering and design dept that handled the tools and appliances etc.
I don’t think it was as deep as WP designing the whole product, but if I remember the job descriptions, they were on par with regular engineering jobs that required CAD and mechanical, technical experience while integrating with electrical components. As with my current job and suppliers, it was probably similar with lots of engineering integration between Sears and whirlpool or other suppliers, such as different mechanisms and buttons and layouts and displays and metallurgical treatments and surface finishes etc. many things that were integral to the customer facing experience of the products at least, I would surmise. With the rest of the product engineering heavily donated from the supplier.

Post# 971831 , Reply# 33   12/6/2017 at 00:26 (291 days old) by IowaBear (Cedar Rapids, IA)        

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Thank you for your reply.  Fascinating.  It must have taken a lot of coordination with Whirlpool, and must have been very time consuming, especially before design software and Internet communication.


So to Launderess's other point, they really were their own product and manufactured accordingly.


It's just hard to imagine a corporation justifying all that extra expense today, but it obviously served Sears well for a long time.   Will be interesting to watch what the next owner of "Kenmore" does.

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