From mail-order watches to a skyscraper: A look at Sears

AP News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2017 2:58 PM
From mail-order watches to a skyscraper: A look at Sears

Sears got its start more than 130 years ago as a mail-order watch seller. It grew to become the world's largest retailers. But today, it is struggling. It has been closing stores to fight falling sales and this week said it has "substantial doubt " that it can stay in business.

Here's a look at Sears through the years:

1886 — Richard Sears starts the R.W. Sears Watch Co. in Minneapolis.

1888 — The Sears catalog is born, featuring watches and jewelry. By 1894, sewing machines, baby carriages and other items are added.

1893 — The company becomes Sears, Roebuck and Co.

1906 — Sears becomes a public company.

1913 — Sears launches the Kenmore brand of sewing machines. Today, refrigerators, washing machines and other appliances are sold under the name.

1925 — The first Sears brick-and-mortar store opens in Chicago.

1927 — Sears buys the Craftsman trademark for $500 and begins to sell power tools under the brand about two years later. In 2017, it announced plans to sell the brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. in a $900 million deal.

1931 — Allstate Insurance Co. is launched, offering auto insurance. Sears sold its stake and Allstate became an independent company in the 1990s.

1973 — The company finishes building its new headquarters, the Sears Tower in Chicago. At time, it was the world's tallest building at 1,454 feet tall. Sears sold the Chicago landmark in 1994. Its current headquarters are in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

1985 — The Discover Card is introduced nationally. Sears spun off a financial company in the 1990s which included the card.

1993 — Sears stops sending its famous catalog.

2005 — Kmart buys Sears and the company becomes the Sears Holdings Corp.

2017 — The company announces plans to cut $1 billion in costs by selling more store locations, cutting more jobs and putting more of its famous brands on the block.

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Sources: Sears, AP archives