Richard W Sears and Sears, Roebuck, & Company


Richard Warren Sears and Sears, Roebuck, & Company

Richard Warren Sears was born on December 7, 1863, in Stewartville, Minnesota. He was the son of James Warren and
Eliza A. Sears, both of English ancestory. His father led anything but a happy life. He had failed in his quest for gold during the California Gold Rush of 1849 and was a bitter soldier in the Civil War, which he blamed on politicians. He had earned a sizable sum of money working as a blacksmith and a wagonmaker, but he lost it all in a stock-farm venture. Richard\'s father gave up soon afterwards, leaving Richard to be the family breadwinner at the age of 16.
Richard worked in the general offices of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway in Minneapolis to support his family. He then decided to move Redwood Falls, Minnesota, where he thought that he could earn more money because of the small town setting. There he worked as a station attendant, doing chores for his board and sleeping in the loft of the railroad station. In his spare time, he learned how the mail-order business worked.
Richard got his opportunity to get into the mail-order business in 1886 when a shipment of watches from a Chicago wholesaler was refused by a town jeweler. Therefore, the shipment sat in the railroad station until Richard contacted the wholesaler, who offered him the watches for twelve dollars each. He bought the watches and sold them by sending letters to other station attendants describing the watches and offering them at the discount price of fourteen dollars each. He sold those watches and ordered more to sell. To sell these he advertised in a small way in St. Paul newspapers. He made a large profit from this operation.
In a few months Richard made such a profit that he abandoned the railroad business entirely and started his own mail-order business under the name of the R.W. Sears Watch Company. In one year he made so much money that he was able to begin advertising in magazines with a national circulation and move the business to Chicago.
On March 1, 1887, he set up a shop on Dearborn Street in Chicago with a staff of three people, one to handle bookkeeping and
correspondence and two stenographers. Soon after the opening of his new shop, he found a need for a watchmaker to repair watches returned by customers. This watchmaker was a young man by the name of Alvah Curtis Roebuck from Hammond, Indiana.
Richard Sears became even more successful by opening up the huge rural market. His advertising was aimed at the farmer, who was independent and stayed away from big companies. He portrayed himself to them as a fellow independent businessman, and was able to prove it by his low prices and his willingness to send watches on approval for just the payment of a deposit.
He was also able to succeed with farmers because he remembered life in small towns with great affection. Although he enjoyed his commercial success, he longed for the laid-back, small town way of life. In 1889, Richard sold the R.W. Sears Watch Company for $72,000 and moved to Iowa to enjoy the small town life.
Richard Sears would soon bore of his new life and decided to start a new company with his old business partner A.C. Roebuck. This new business was about the same as the previous one. It was a mail-order operation selling watches and jewelry under the name of A.C. Roebuck and Company. This new business was even more successful than the first, mostly because of its low prices and guarantee of satisfaction.
In September 1893, A.C. Roebuck and Company changed its name to Sears, Roebuck, and Company, the same name it carries today. Soon after, they moved the company to Chicago, where they could fill orders more easily to their major markets in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, and Iowa.
Later that year the first of the Sears catalogs that have become so familiar was made. The catalog was the key to the success of Sears. It used simple, direct language that spoke to the nation\'s farmers. The catolog would claim that the goods featured inside were "the best