Sears, Roebuck & Co.

In 1886, a Chicago jewelry company shipped an order of gold filled watches to a Minneapolis jewelry store. When the jewelry store refused delivery a station agent by the name of Richard Sears decided to purchase the shipment and try to sell them to other station agents. This proved to be successful for Richard Sears, and in 1886, Richard Sears began a company known as R.W. Sears Watch Company in Minneapolis. A year later in 1887, Sears moved his new found business to Chicago, and placed an advertisement in the newspaper for a watchmaker. The ad received a response from an Indian man by the name of Alvah C. Roebuck.

Sears hired Roebuck and in 1893 the corporate name of the firm became Sears, Roebuck and Company. Business turned out to be very profitable for the company and towards the turn of the century the mail order industry for Sears, Roebuck and Co. began to take-off. As of 1895, Sears had introduced a mail order catalog that consisted of 532 pages offering shoes, women's garments, wagons, fishing tackle, stoves, furniture, saddles, bicycles, etc. that helped customers in rural areas receive merchandise that they might not be able to receive at local stores.

In 1901, needing more financial support, Sears for the first time offered common and preferred stock in the open market and became publicly owned. In 1906, Sears expanded and opened an office in the Dallas, Texas region, expansion was beginning. In 1925 the opening of retail stores began, and by the end of 1927 Sears had twenty- seven stores in operation, and only one short year later in 1928 one hundred ninety two stores were in operation. Once again, the expansion at least doubled itself and Sears in 1929 was operating three hundred nineteen stores and by 1933 four hundred were placed around the country. This expansion was massive and remarkable given that only six short years before twenty seven stores were in operation.

In 1931, Sears noted the need for car insurance in an environment that was becoming engorged with this convenient form of transportation. Hence, the beginning of Allstate Insurance Company which became a fully owned Sears subsidiary.

In the middle part of the century, Sears went through many changes and expansions making it one of the leading, if not top, retail contenders. One aspect that Sears developed and perfected was the idea of developing the store around the merchandise. What this means is that a selling floor plan would be developed, where merchandise was to be placed within the store, and then the design of the outer building would be developed.

Sears, Roebuck & Co.

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