Yes Sears and Montgomery Wards were rivals. Sears had a reputation of better quality as I recall. You could go to a Sears store and get just about anything you would have a use for in the home, shop or garage.
Management used to give a rip about what their customers wanted and also how their products worked for their customers. They acquired good quality stuff and resold it at a profit.
Today, it is all about the so called "investors", more revenue, annual volume increases, even when it means pumping garbage into the consumer market. Appearance, or merely a rumor of "growth" gets more investment from fools chasing appreciation, without any regard for the basics of ROI.
Here is but one of hundreds of examples of how badly things have become relating to quality, truth, and simply doing the right thing......It is all just dump it into the market, Amazon, Google, whomever will sell it.
"Hometown International (HWIN), which owns a single deli in rural New Jersey. The deli had $21,772 in sales in 2019 and only $13,976 in 2020, as it was closed due to COVID from March to September. HWIN reached a market cap of $113 million on February 8. The largest shareholder is also the CEO/CFO/Treasurer and a Director, who also happens to be the wrestling coach of the high school next door to the deli. The pastrami must be amazing. Small investors who get sucked into these situations are likely to be harmed eventually, yet the regulators – who are supposed to be protecting investors – appear to be neither present nor curious."