A department store company with multiple chains has issued a dire warning to investors and customers.

Sears, Roebuck, & Company (Sears), founded in 1893, issued this worrisome statement in the company's annual report, released Tuesday night:

Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern."

Secret Service Investigating Possible Data Breach At Sears
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Sears was once one of the brightest stars in U.S. retail. It was famous for its catalog, Craftsman, Kenmore, and Diehard brands. CNN Money called Sears, "the Walmart and Amazon of its time." Unfortunately, that time has passed and the downward spiral seemed to begin in 2005, the year the company merged with KMart.

Two months ago, Sears sold its Craftsman tool line to Stanley Black & Decker. It still wants to sell the Kenmore appliance line as well as Diehard auto parts. It desperately needs the cash. Sears debt totals $4.2 billion, $1.2 billion more than a year ago. The company last showed a profit seven years ago and has lost nearly $10.5 billion since.

In the last 10 years, Sears store count in the U.S. has gone from 3,400 to 1,400 and its number of employees have plummeted from 355,000 to 140,000. Sears still operates stores in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Davenport in eastern Iowa.

Sears locations in Iowa
Google Maps

KMart first opened in 1899 and who didn't love hearing the news of a "blue light special" on the store's public-address system? The offer was often not real exciting, but the immediacy of the entire thing was always fun.

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

There are still 14 KMart stores in Iowa, including in Iowa City, Waterloo, Dubuque, and Oelwein. Business Insider announced in January that three Iowa stores would close this April. They're the Waterloo and Dubuque locations, as well as Sioux City.

KMart locations in Iowa
Google Maps

The writing seems to be on the wall for yet another huge department store chain. Forget the stores, though. One of our friends had her job eliminated at an area Sears store earlier this month. I realize finding another retail job will be difficult for her, with so many of them struggling mightily. She's only one person and let's remember the total number still employed by Sears... 140,000.

I'm going to do some shopping at Sears (there's no KMart in Cedar Rapids) and I'll take Julie to Gordmans who announced last week they'll likely close all their stores. Will you join me? Let's try to 'Save the Stores.' Shopping online is great, but I don't think any of us want that to be the only option. I know I don't.

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