Sears Is Closing Up, And Taking Illinois History With It
As Joe Dredge pointed out in his post yesterday, the last remaining Sears store in Illinois is closing. Their Schaumberg store, Illinois' last open Sears, is done in November.
It's not like this is some stunning, bolt out of the blue kind of announcement. We've all known for years that Sears was basically going down the tubes fast, but the fact remains that when Sears shuts the doors on its last remaining Illinois store, a bunch of Illinois history goes right along with it.
Sears Got Started In Minneapolis, Not In Chicago
The name Sears wasn't just picked out of a hat when someone needed to come up with a name for a store. It comes from Richard Sears, a railroad station agent in Minnesota who got his retail start selling gold watches that had mistakenly been delivered to his train station. According to History.com, he netted about $5,000 on those watches, and quickly figured out that he wanted to be done being a railroad station agent.
In 1887, Richard Sears Took His Company To Chicago And Things Got Big
It's hard to believe, but Richard Sears was only 24 years old when he made the move to Chicago. Sears knew that Chicago was the most important transportation center in the Midwest, and he'd need that to get his products out to the rest of the country.
It wasn't long until Sears hired a watch repairman named Alvah Curtis Roebuck to repair any watches that customer sent back. Roebuck was the very first employee of Sears, and he later became co-founder of Sears, Roebuck & Company, which formed in 1891 when Sears was 28 years old. In 1945 the company topped the $1 billion mark in sales for the first time.
Depending On Your Age, You Probably Remember Sears Best For Their Catalogs
In 1895, they turned their mail-order watch business into a mail-order company that sold all kinds of things from appliances, to clothing, to household items, medical devices, stoves, and a lot more.
They even offered up things of a...well...personal nature:
Who needs the little blue pill (which didn't even exist then) when you can order the Heidelberg Electric Belt to deal with that pesky E.D. problem? Here's a few more photos from vintage Sears catalogs: