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Sears Expanding Online

What's Eddie Lampert's strategy at Sears? If recent moves are any indication, he could be trying to set up the old line firm to copy a much more modern one: Amazon.com. In the process, it could mean that Sears substantially shrinks its store base, at least according to one observer.

"If you think about what the Big Book originally tried to do, it was to open up all this stuff to people living in the cabins in the Plains, and that's essentially what they're doing," said e-commerce guru Bill Bass, who ran Sears' online business before Lampert took control of Sears in 2005. Bass currently is co-founder and CEO of Fair Indigo, a fair-trade direct merchant of clothing. "When you think about the power of the Internet, that's what it's really good at."

Brand expert Jonathan Salem Baskin is one who sees the potential. He outlined his self-described radical idea for saving Sears on his blog, envisioning Sears.com as "a gateway to whatever is hot." He suggests Sears host branded boutiques from vendors around the world. Its 3,500-store base could shrink and function as a place Americans can go to pick up or exchange merchandise.

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