Sears filed for bankruptcy this week. NBC News provides a timeline of Sears’ storied history. Sears was the Amazon of its day, creating businesses in many different industries and disrupting the dominant retailing model of the time. Here’s how Sears got its start:
1886 — Richard Sears begins selling watches at a railroad station
At age 22, Sears, who was working as a railroad station agent in North Redwood, Minnesota, began selling watches to fellow agents as a way to supplement his income.
1886 — Mail order business, the Amazon of its time
Within six months, Sears’ watch business was booming. He quit his job at the station and moved to Minneapolis, where he started the R.W. Sears Watch Company, expanding his clientele through a mail order business, the late 19th century equivalent of online shopping.
1893 — Sears, Roebuck, and Co. is formed in Chicago
How does a watch salesman expand his business? By hiring someone who can repair watches. Sears and Alvah Roebuck, a watchmaker, connected through a newspaper ad in 1887. In 1893, they made their business partnership official by launching Sears, Roebuck, and Co.
1906 — The first major retailer to go public
Not only could shoppers buy from Sears, but they could now invest in the company. Sears was the first major U.S. retailer to go public, raising $40 million. That was 1906. On Monday, 112 years later, Sears’ value was hovering around $44 million.
Read on here.
Jeremy Jones, CFA
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