The Ghost of Sears’ Future

TL;DR: Dead Sears attached to a dead mall… what else is new?

Searboldt's  (LM-2)History: This anchor was originally built for the Chicago-based Wieboldt’s department store, who opened in 1973 with a full-line store and in-store restaurant; remaining until that chain went under in 1986. This anchor was then mothballed for nine years until Sears entered the picture, renovating and re-opening the store in 1995 as the cherry atop the mall’s first revitalization effort.

After riding-out the mall’s troubles when two other anchors bailed between 1999-2000, and the disastrous redevelopment in the mid-2000s which was never finished: the store finally fell as the then-latest victim of CEO Eddie Lampert’s fuck-all attitude toward the company’s brick and mortar stores in 2012. It’s been gathering dust ever since; and even after the shuttered mall was cracked in early-2016, whored to the media by urbex’s favorite custodian last November, and subsequently swarmed by explorers and otherwise from as far as Ohio to MSP in a matter of two months: this store’s largely remained undocumented until now…

Ghost of Sears' Future

Explore: We arrived to find two squads sitting at the entry point, but after a few minutes the officers exited the mall and departed. We were soon in with no trouble at all, and decided it would be best to seal the entrance up with debris in case someone got nosy later on. A quick sweep of the mall (by the way: it’s been absolutely thrashed since we wrote about it a few months, ago) confirmed I was alone, and we then ducked under the crudely pried open gate into the almost pitch-dark store’s second floor.
Gumby(s) & PokeyVacuum Cleaner Sucks Up Budgie!Literally Anywhere Else Sears and Kmart stores tend to strip any markings or displays left behind; dumpstering any unsold fixtures and leaving just an empty shell. Pretty much cut and paste, here — until you get to the lower level. Some wallpaper promoting the name-brand hardlines Sears once carried, and signs for the in-store services (portrait studio, optical, etc.) are still up; but otherwise it’s the same, here. The Last StepWatery Grave Despite how thrashed the mall is, this store actually remains fairly untouched since closing, save for a layer of dust from discharged fire extinguishers. I want to say most of the damage to the walls comes merely from the liquidators who stripped it of its fixtures in 2012. There is, however, evidence of mold growing on the walls in one area – likely due to a combination of no climate control since power was cut to the mall, and the completely flooded loading docks.

I had planned to spend the day re-shooting the rest of the mall, however an alarming discovery changed those plans. Turns out all the mouth breathers who blew this spot up warranted the court-appointed receiver who oversees the property to hire a private security firm; who patrols the mall inside and out, and stashes their crap in this store at the end of their shift. A glance at their daily log revealed they were due to arrive in about 20 minutes… and with that, we made a prompt exit. The Ghost of Sears' FutureA county judge has since ordered the immediate demolition of the mall and this anchor, which could begin as soon as next month. Meanwhile, even Sears corporate seems ready to throw in the towel

People of the Damen Silos

A.K.A.: “Why the Silos has Security, Now…”

Some observations from my last venture to one of Chicago’s most popular spots. Back in 2012, you were lucky to maybe run into a bum, squatter, or a stray tagger. Summer of 2016? Place was an utter fucking zoo on both occasions we visited… graffiti artists, model shoots, family riding around on ATV’s and setting off mortars in broad daylight, cars parked everywhere (myself included), and people, people, people in literally every nook and cranny of the place… mostly bored college and suburban kids. Not getting photobombed by someone or their car was absolutely impossible.

But it made for a hell of a peoplewatching spot…
People of the Damen SilosModestPeople of the Damen Silos

Recent reports say there’s a lazy security car parked at the gate, now… not that it’s stopped some. It’s not clear why, but we’re guessing either filming is about to take place or the State of Illinois finally dumped this property.

Dumped Truck

I picked up a Minolta Instant Pro sometime last year; an advanced version of the Polaroid Spectra System. I really should use it more often so I can give it a proper review…Dumped Truck

Minolta Instant Pro // Impossible Color for Spectra (expired Gen-2 produced 10/2015)

Taken under nothing but moonlight. AF on, flash off. I metered this at ISO640 and f/10 which calculated a four-minute exposure, but that turned out too dark. We’re balls-deep into reciprocity failure for Impossible film as it is, here. I gave it a second go with a six-minute exposure and tossed some red light in. Much better.

You can program the camera for an exposure up to two-minutes at a time, so to hit six minutes I programmed it to expose a single image three times in two-minute bursts (physically hitting the shutter button each time) before ejecting the film. The first shot was only two bursts. Between exposure bursts, I moved the light – an ordinary, el-cheapo LED torch with a red light – between the roof and the cab to achieve the red effect.