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Sears - The history
In 1886, the R.W. Sears Watch Company was founded to sell watches by mail order by Richard W. Sears in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1887, Sears relocated his business to Chicago, hired Alvah C. Roebuck to repair watches, and established a mail-order business for jewelry and watches. The company’s first catalog was offered the same year. Sears sold his business in 1889 but a few years later established, with Roebuck, another mail-order enterprise, which was named Sears, Roebuck, and Company in 1893.
Julius Rosenwald, a wealthy clothing manufacturer, acquired Roebuck’s interest, and he restructured the mail-order business in 1895. Sears meanwhile wrote the company’s soon-to-be-famous catalogs. The firm expanded phenomenally by selling a range of merchandise at low prices to villages and farms that had no other close access to retail outlets. The intro of rural free delivery in 1896 and parcel post in 1913 by the U.S. postal service allowed Sears to send its merchandise to even the most remote customers. In 1909, Rosenwald succeeded Sears as president of the company.
Sears diversified into such businesses as financial services and real estate in the 1980s, but by 1992 Sears began selling off some subsidiaries to concentrate on its lagging core retail operations. It discontinued its general catalog in 1993, and 1995 spun off its most significant subsidiary, the Allstate Corporation, an insurance company established by Sears in 1931. In addition to selling clothing, household goods, and hardware, Sears provides repair services for automobiles and household items such as electronic equipment, appliances, home heating and cooling systems. In 2005, Sears merged with Kmart.