Sears Through the Years
1886 Railway station agent Richard Sears begins selling watches to other station agents in Minneapolis.
1887 Watchmaker Alvah Roebuck joins the young Sears, and they start selling goods by mail.
1893 Sears, Roebuck founded.
1896 Distributes its first large general catalog
featuring a wide array of items, from women’s garments to wagons.
1913 Launches the Kenmore brand of appliances.
1925 Opens its first retail store, in a Chicago mail-order plant.
1927 Launches the Craftsman tool brand.
1931 Retail sales exceed those of mail orders for the first time. Launches Allstate Insurance, selling by mail only. Two years later, opens Allstate sales offices inside Sears retail stores. 1945 Sears annual sales exceed $1b. 1953 Sears expands to Canada. 1973 The 110-story Sears Tower opens in Chicago as the world’s tallest building. 1981 Buys Dean Witter Reynolds Organization in a big expansion into
financial services. Buys Coldwell Banker real estate brokerage.
1985 Launches the Discover Card.
1993 Closes its unprofitable general catalog business. Launches an IPO of 20 percent of Dean Witter; gives remainder to shareholders, in what is then the second-largest stock dividend in U.S. history. Also sells 20% of Allstate; it’s the largest IPO in U.S. history. 1995 Distributes rest of Allstate to shareholders. Sells Coldwell Banker. 1997 Sells its majority interest in Sears, Roebuck de Mexico. 2002 Buys former sailing gear retailer Lands’ End. 2003 Sells retail credit card business to Citibank. 2005 Hedge fund manager Edward Lampert, Sears’s
largest shareholder, merges it with Kmart. Sears Holdings starts selling DieHard batteries and accepting Sears cards at Kmart.
2006 Begins selling Craftsman tools at Kmart.
2012 Spins off outlet and neighborhood stores.
2014 Spins off Lands’ End. 2016 Considers putting Craftsman, Kenmore, and DieHard brands on the block.