Sears is an American chain of department stores specializing in home services and equipment including furniture, electronics, appliances, tools, outdoor products and a selection of auto parts and accessories. It also sells a wide range of clothing and shoewear for the whole family. One of the largest retailers in the United States, Sears operates through a network of more than 180 locations in the country.
Richard Warren Sears was born in 1863, in Stewartville, Minnesota and he was only 23 when he created his company. At that time, he worked as a station agent in North Redwood. When a shipment of watches arrived at the station for a local jeweler who eventually refused them, Sears bought it and started to sell them to his colleagues. He made enough profit to buy more watches and founded the R.W. Sears Watch Company in 1886, in Minneapolis. The next year, the company was relocated to Chicago and Alvah C. Roebuck, a young watch repairman, became his business partner. A few month later, they issued their first mail-order catalog offering watches and jewelry. It wasn't long before they opened their catalog to many other items such as clothes, furniture, firearms, china and baby carriages, thus responding to remote farmers who had no other choice than to buy from expensive general stores with only narrow selection of goods. In 1893, the company was renamed Sears, Roebuck and Co., with Julius Rosenwald joining the partnership in 1895. Roebuck resigned due to health issues. In 1906, the Sears Merchandise Building Tower was inaugurated in Chicago and was the largest business building in the world. Sears pioneered in the customer loyalty program field: he wrote to his best customers in Iowa and asked each of them to distribute 24 catalogs among family, friends and neighbors, and to send Sears the name of the people who received the catalog. When these people ordered, the original customers were rewarded with gifts such as a bicycle or a sewing machine. The successful program was later applied in other states. In 1908, Sears became ill and left the company. The first Sears department store opened in 1926 and by the 1980s, Sears was the largest retailer in the United States.
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