HOME

TheInfoList




Sears, Roebuck and Co., commonly known as Sears, is an American chain of
department store A department store is a retail Retail is the sale of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), ...
s founded by
Richard Warren Sears Richard Warren Sears (December 7, 1863 – September 28, 1914) was an American manager, businessman and the founder of Sears, Roebuck and Company Sears, Roebuck and Co., commonly known as Sears, is an American chain of department store A de ...
and
Alvah Curtis Roebuck Alvah Curtis Roebuck (January 9, 1864 – June 18, 1948) was the co-founder of Sears, Roebuck and Company Sears, Roebuck and Co., commonly known as Sears, is an American chain of department store A department store is a retail Retail ...
in 1892 and reincorporated by Richard Sears and
Julius Rosenwald Julius Rosenwald (August 12, 1862 – January 6, 1932) was an American businessman and philanthropist Philanthropy consists of "private initiatives, for the Public good (economics), public good, focusing on quality of life". Philanthropy contr ...
in 1906. It began as a
mail order Mail order is the buying Trade involves the transfer of goods or services from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated el ...
ing catalog company, then began opening retail locations in 1925, the first in Chicago, Illinois. In 2005, the company was bought by the management of the American big box discount chain
Kmart Kmart Corporation ( , doing business as Kmart and stylized as kmart) is an American big box department store A department store is a retail Retail is the sale of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that stud ...

Kmart
, which formed
Sears Holdings Sears Holdings Corporation was an American holding company headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, Hoffman Estates, Illinois. It was the parent company of the chain stores Kmart and Sears and was founded after the former purchased the latter ...
on completion of the merger. Through the 1980s, Sears was the largest retailer in the United States. In 2018, it was the 31st-largest. After several years of declining sales, Sears's parent company filed for Chapter 11
bankruptcy Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debto ...

bankruptcy
on October 15, 2018. It announced on January 16, 2019, that it had won its bankruptcy auction, and that a reduced number of 425 stores would remain open, including 223 Sears stores. Sears was based in the
Sears Tower The Willis Tower (formerly and informally: Sears Tower, its name until 2009) is a 108- story, skyscraper A skyscraper is a large continuously habitable building having multiple floors. Modern sources currently define skyscrapers as being a ...

Sears Tower
in
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
from 1973 until 1995 and is currently headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Sears announced in 2021 that it will be selling its Hoffman Estates headquarters.


History


Beginnings

In 1863, Richard Warren Sears was born in
Stewartville, Minnesota Stewartville is a city in Olmsted County, Minnesota Minnesota () is a U.S. state, state in the north central region of the United States. It is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". Its official motto is , French for "The Star of the North". ...
, to a wealthy family, which moved to nearby Spring Valley.Richard Sears
, Spring Valley Methodist Church Museum, Accessed January 17, 2011.
In 1879, his father died shortly after losing the family fortune in a speculative stock deal. Sears moved across the state to work as a railroad station agent in North Redwood, then
Minneapolis Minneapolis () is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota. With a population of 429,954 as of 2020 United States census, 2020, it is the most populous city in the state and the 46th most populous in the nation. The county seat of Hennepin County, ...

Minneapolis
. While he was in North Redwood, a jeweler refused delivery on a shipment of watches. Sears purchased them and sold them at a low price to the station agents, making a profit. He started a mail-order watch business in Minneapolis in 1886, calling it the R.W. Sears Watch Company. That year, he met
Alvah Curtis Roebuck Alvah Curtis Roebuck (January 9, 1864 – June 18, 1948) was the co-founder of Sears, Roebuck and Company Sears, Roebuck and Co., commonly known as Sears, is an American chain of department store A department store is a retail Retail ...
, a watch repairman. In 1887, Sears and Roebuck relocated the business to Chicago, and the company published Richard Sears's first mail-order catalog, offering watches, diamonds, and jewelry. In 1889, Sears sold his business for
US$ The United States dollar (symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, ...
100,000 (US$3 million in 2021 dollars) and relocated to Iowa, planning to be a rural banker. He returned to Chicago in 1892 and established a new mail-order firm, again selling watches and jewelry, with Roebuck as his partner, operating as the A. C. Roebuck watch company. In 1893, they renamed the company Sears, Roebuck, and Co. and began to diversify the product lines offered in their catalogs. Before the Sears catalog, farmers near small rural towns usually purchased supplies, often at high prices and on credit, from local
general store A general merchant store (also known as general merchandise store, general dealer or village shop) is a rural or small-town Retailing, store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a ...

general store
s with narrow selections of goods. Prices were negotiated and relied on the storekeeper's estimate of a customer's creditworthiness. Sears built an opposite business model by offering in their catalogs a larger selection of products at published prices. By 1894, the Sears catalog had grown to 322 pages, including many new items, such as sewing machines, bicycles,
sporting goods Sporting equipment, also called sporting goods, are the tools, materials, apparel, and gear used to compete in a sport and varies depending on the sport. The equipment ranges from balls, nets, and protective gear like helmets. Sporting equipment ...
and
automobile A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle Electric bicycles parked in Yangzhou's main street, Wenchang Lu. They are a very common way of transport in this city, in some areas almost outnumbering regular bicycles A motor vehicle, also ...

automobile
s (later produced, from 1905 to 1915, by
Lincoln Motor Car Works 300px, Sears Model L Lincoln Motor Car Works was an automobile company in Chicago, Illinois (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates ...
of Chicago Ford_line.html" ;"title="Lincoln_(automobile).html" ;"title="o relation to the current Lincoln (automobile)">Ford line">Lincoln_(automobile).html" ;"title="o relation to the current Lincoln (automobile)">Ford line. By 1895, the company was producing a 532-page catalog. Sales were over $400,000 (US$12 million in 2021 dollars) in 1893 and over $750,000 (US$20 million in 2021 dollars) two years later. By 1896, dolls, stoves, and groceries were added to the catalog. Despite the strong and growing sales, the national Panic of 1893 led to a full-scale recession, causing a cash squeeze and large quantities of unsold merchandise by 1895. Roebuck decided to quit, returning later in a publicity role. Sears offered Roebuck's half of the company to Chicago businessman Aaron Nusbaum, who in turn brought in his brother-in-law
Julius Rosenwald Julius Rosenwald (August 12, 1862 – January 6, 1932) was an American businessman and philanthropist Philanthropy consists of "private initiatives, for the Public good (economics), public good, focusing on quality of life". Philanthropy contr ...
, whom Sears owed money. In August 1895, they bought Roebuck's half of the company for $75,000 ($ million today), and that month the company was reincorporated in Illinois with a capital stock of $150,000 ($ million today). The transaction was handled by
Albert Henry LoebAlbert Henry Loeb (February 18, 1868 – October 27, 1924) was a Chicago attorney and the former vice president and treasurer of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Loeb was the brother of Jacob Loeb, the former president of the Chicago Board of Education and wa ...
of Chicago law firm Loeb & Adler (now Arnstein & Lehr); copies of the transaction are still displayed on the firm's walls.


Early 20th century

Sears and Rosenwald got along well with each other, but not with Nusbaum; they bought him out for $1.3 million in 1903 ($ million today). Rosenwald brought to the mail-order firm a rational management philosophy and diversified product lines: dry goods, consumer durables, drugs, hardware, furniture, and nearly anything else a farm household could desire. Sales continued to proliferate, and the prosperity of the company and their vision for more significant expansion led Sears and Rosenwald to take the company public in 1906, with a stock placement of $40 million ($ billion today). They had to incorporate a new company to bring the operation public; Sears and Rosenwald established Sears, Roebuck and Company with the legal name Sears, Roebuck and Co., in the state of New York, which effectively replaced the original company. The current company inherits the history of the old company, celebrating the original 1892 incorporation, rather than the 1906 revision, as the start of the company. Sears's successful 1906
initial public offering An initial public offering (IPO) or stock launch is a in which shares of a company are sold to s and usually also retail (individual) investors. An IPO is typically by one or more , who also arrange for the shares to be listed on one or more s ...
(IPO) marks the first major retail IPO in American financial history and represented a coming of age, financially, of the consumer sector. The company traded under the ticker symbol S and was a component of the
Dow Jones Industrial Average The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), Dow Jones, or simply the Dow (), is a price-weighted measurement stock market index In finance, a stock index, or stock market index, is an Index (economics), index that measures a stock market, or a ...
from 1924 to 1999. In 1906, Sears opened its catalog plant and the Sears Merchandise Building Tower in Chicago's West Side. The building was the anchor of what would become the massive
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex The Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex on the west side of Chicago, Illinois (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates = , coordina ...
of offices, laboratories, and mail-order operations at Homan Avenue and Arthington Street. The complex served as corporate headquarters until 1973 when the
Sears Tower The Willis Tower (formerly and informally: Sears Tower, its name until 2009) is a 108- story, skyscraper A skyscraper is a large continuously habitable building having multiple floors. Modern sources currently define skyscrapers as being a ...

Sears Tower
was completed and served as the base of the mail-order catalog business until 1995. By 1907, under Rosenwald's leadership as vice president and treasurer, annual sales of the company climbed to roughly $50 million ($ billion today). Sears resigned from the presidency in 1908 due to declining health, with Rosenwald named president and chairman of the board and taking on full control. In 1910, Sears acquired the David Bradley Plow company. This acquisition would lead to the manufacturing of riding mowers, chainsaws, tillers, etc., in the Bradley Illinois factory. The company was badly hurt during 1919–21 as a severe depression hit the nation's farms after farmers had over-expanded their holdings. To bail out the company, Rosenwald pledged $21 million ($ million today) of his personal wealth in 1921. By 1922, Sears regained financial stability.


Boom years


Brick and mortar

Rosenwald decided to shift emphasis to urban America and brought in Robert E. Wood to take charge. Rosenwald oversaw the design and construction of the firm's first department store, built on land within the Sears, Roebuck, and Company Complex. The store opened in 1925. In 1924, Rosenwald resigned the presidency but remained as chair until he died in 1932; his goal was to devote more time to philanthropy. The first store opened on February 2, 1925, as an experiment in the
North Lawndale North Lawndale is on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes ...
Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex The Sears, Roebuck and Company Complex on the west side of Chicago, Illinois (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates = , coordina ...
. Despite its remote location on the outskirts of Chicago, its success led to dozens of further openings across the country, many in conjunction with the company's mail-order offices, typically in lower-middle-class and working-class neighborhoods far from the main downtown shopping district. This was considered highly unconventional at a time when shopping was concentrated in city centers, but through
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, there was an extensive
streetcar A tram (also known as a streetcar or trolley in North America) is a train that runs on tramway track Tramway track is used on tramways or light rail operations. Groove (engineering), Grooved rails (or Rail profile#Grooved rail, girder ...

streetcar
network in Chicago and other US cities. However, rapidly increasing car ownership and the brand's huge popularity helped attract customers. Sears retail stores were pioneering and broke the conventions of the time in three ways: their location away from central shopping districts, innovative store design, and unconventional product mix and retailing practices. Many stores at this time were designed by architect
George C. Nimmons Image:Rosenwald Mansion Exterior Rear.JPG, Rear view of Rosenwald Mansion in Chicago (Nimmons & Fellows, 1903) Source:The Western Architect, January 1910 (15:1) George Croll Nimmons (June 8, 1865 - June 17, 1947) was an American architect. Nimmons ...
and his firms. The architecture was driven by merchandising needs rather than the desired outer appearance. This made the stores excellent examples of the
modern architecture Modern architecture, or modernist architecture, was an architectural movement or architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. ...

modern architecture
of the time – styles made famous by
Bertram Goodhue Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (April 28, 1869 – April 23, 1924) was an American architect celebrated for his work in Gothic Revival Gothic Revival (also referred to as Victorian Gothic, neo-Gothic, or Gothick) is an architectural movement that ...
and
Eliel Saarinen Gottlieb Eliel Saarinen (, ; August 20, 1873 – July 1, 1950) was a Finnish-American Architecture, architect known for his work with art nouveau buildings in the early years of the 20th century. He was also the father of famed architect Eero Saa ...

Eliel Saarinen
. Its stores were oriented to motorists. Set apart from existing business districts amid residential areas occupied by their target audience, they had ample, free, off-street parking and communicated a clear corporate identity. In the 1930s, the company designed fully air-conditioned, "windowless" stores, such as Sears-Pico in
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
, which was the first to have an open plan selling floor (instead of breaking up the floor into discrete sections). Sears was also a pioneer in creating department stores that catered to men and women. The stores included hardware and building materials. It de-emphasized the latest clothing fashions in favor of practical and durable clothing and allowed customers to select goods without the aid of a clerk. In 1933, Sears issued the first of its Christmas catalogs known as the " Sears Wishbook", a catalog featuring toys and gifts, separate from the annual Christmas Catalog. From 1908 to 1940, it included ready-to-assemble Sears Catalog Home kit houses. Sears opened its first store in
Mexico City Mexico City ( es, link=no, Ciudad de México, ; abbreviated as CDMX; nah, Āltepētl Mēxihco) is the capital city, capital and largest city of Mexico, as well as the List of North American cities by population, most populous city in North Americ ...

Mexico City
in 1947; the Mexican stores would later spin off into
Sears Mexico Sears Operadora México, S.A. de C.V. is a department store chain located in Mexico, operating more than 95 stores all over Mexico. Sears México is operated by Grupo Carso. History Early History On 26 February 1947, the first Sears in Mex ...
, which in 2020 operated more than 90 stores across Mexico. In July 2021, it was announced that Sears Mexico is considering renaming their stores to distance itself from its failing former parent in the United States. From the 1920s to the 1950s, Sears built many urban department stores in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (apart from, but not far from, existing
central business district A central business district (CBD) is the commercial and business center of a city. It contains commercial space and offices. In larger cities, it is often synonymous with the city's "financial district". Geographically, it often coincides with ...
s), and they overshadowed the mail-order business. Following World War II, the company expanded into suburban markets and malls. In 1959, it had formed the
Homart Development Company Homart Development Company, a Chicago-based subsidiary of Sears, was one of the largest builders of shopping centers and malls in the United States from 1959 to 1995. Company history As retail development in the United States shifted away from do ...
for developing malls. Many of the company's stores have undergone major renovations or replacements since the 1980s. Sears began to diversify in the 1930s, creating Allstate Insurance Company in 1931 and placing Allstate representatives in its stores in 1934 (Allstate was also used as a house brand on a range of motorized vehicles sold by Sears). Over the decades, it established major national brands, such as
KenmoreKenmore may refer to: Places Australia * Kenmore, Queensland, a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland * Kenmore Asylum, a decommissioned psychiatric hospital located in Goulburn, New South Wales * Kenmore Bypass, a proposed major road in Brisbane * Kenm ...
, Craftsman, DieHard, Silvertone, Supertone, and Toughskins. Sears reached its pinnacle in the 1970s. In 1974, Sears completed the 110-story
Sears Tower The Willis Tower (formerly and informally: Sears Tower, its name until 2009) is a 108- story, skyscraper A skyscraper is a large continuously habitable building having multiple floors. Modern sources currently define skyscrapers as being a ...

Sears Tower
in Chicago, which became the
world's tallest building File:Tallest Buildings in the World 2020.png, 485px, The tallest buildings in 2020 This list of tallest buildings includes skyscrapers with continuously occupiable floors and a height of at least . Nonbuilding structure, Non-building structures, ...
, a title it took from the former
World Trade Center World Trade Centers are sites recognized by the World Trade Centers Association The World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) was founded in 1968 following the establishment of the first World Trade Center in New Orleans. WTCA is a not-for-profit, n ...
towers in New York. Sears moved to the new Prairie Stone Business Park in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, between 1993 and 1995. The
Sears Centre The Now Arena (originally known as the Sears Centre, Sears Centre Arena and stylized as NOW Arena) is a multi-purpose arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a northwest suburb from Chicago, near land which formerly contained the Poplar Creek Music ...
is a 10,001-seat multi-purpose arena located in Hoffman Estates adjacent to the Prairie Stone campus. Even though its naming rights to the building expired in 2003, the Sears Tower remained named as such until early 2009, when London-based insurer Willis Group Holdings, Ltd. was given the building's naming rights to encourage them to occupy the building.


Mail order

The Sears catalog became known in the industry as "the Consumers' Bible". The company sold to foreign customers, such as after the American occupation of
Greenland in World War II Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is an Autonomous administrative division, autonomous territory* * * within the Danish Realm and the List of islands by area, world's largest island, located between the Arctic Ocean, Arcti ...
, when locals ordered from catalogs left by soldiers. Novelists and story writers often portrayed the importance of the catalog in the emotional lives of rural folk. The catalog also entered the language, particularly of rural dwellers, as a
euphemism A euphemism () is an innocuous word or expression used in place of one that is deemed Profanity, offensive or suggests something unpleasant. Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others use bland, inoffensive terms for concepts that the us ...
for toilet paper, as its pages could be torn out and used as such. In addition, for many rural African-Americans, especially in areas dominated by
Jim Crow Jim or JIM may refer to: * Jim, a diminutive form of the given name James (name), James * Jim, a short form of the given name Jimmy (given name), Jimmy * OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism * Jim (comics), ''Jim'' (comics), a series by Jim Woodri ...

Jim Crow
racial segregation Racial segregation is the systematic separation of people into race (human classification), racial or other Ethnicity, ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation can amount to the international crime of apartheid and a crimes against hum ...
, the Sears catalog was a vital retail alternative to local white-population-dominated stores, bypassing the stores' frequent intention to deny them fair access to their merchandise. However, as the nation urbanized, Sears's catalog business faced competition from city department stores. Rural America's population was slow-growing and possessed far less spending power than urban America.


Decline

In the 1980s, the company began to diversify into non-retail entities such as buying Dean Witter and
Coldwell Banker Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC is an American real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest ...
in 1981. In 1984, Prodigy was launched as a joint venture with
IBM International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, with operations in over 170 countries. The company began in 1911, founded in Endicott, New York, as the C ...

IBM
, and the Discover credit card was introduced in 1985. All of this distracted management's attention from the core retail business and allowed competing retailers to gain significant ground, culminating with
Walmart Walmart Inc. (; formerly Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.) is an American multinational Retail companies, retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets (also called supercenters), discount department stores, and grocery stores from the United ...

Walmart
surpassing Sears as the largest retailer in America in 1990. In the 1990s, the company began divesting itself of many non-retail entities, which were detrimental to its bottom line. Sears spun off its financial services arm, which included brokerage business Dean Witter Reynolds and Discover Card. It sold its mall building subsidiary Homart to
General Growth Properties GGP Inc. (an initialism of General Growth Properties) was an American commercial real estate company and the second-largest shopping mall operator in the United States. It was founded by brothers Martin, Matthew Bucksbaum, Matthew and Maurice ...
in 1995. Sears later acquired hardware chain
Orchard Supply Hardware Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) was an American retailer of home improvement and gardening products. Headquarters were in San Jose, California, San Jose, California, Orchard Supply Hardware had dozens of locations throughout California, with expansion ...
in 1996 and started home improvement store The Great Indoors in 1997. The cost of distributing the once highly influential general merchandise catalog became prohibitive; sales and profits had declined. The company discontinued the catalog in 1993. It dismissed 50,000 workers who had filled the orders. In 1992, California successfully sued the company for falsely finding things wrong with automobiles in for repair for other reasons. In 1997, criminal charges were made. In 1998, Sears announced it had sold the remnants of Western Auto (which it had acquired in 1988) to -based
Advance Auto Parts Advance Auto Parts, Inc. (Advance) is an American automotive aftermarket parts provider. Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina Raleigh (; ) is the capital of the state of North Carolina North Carolina () is a U.S. state, state i ...
. The business deal was not what experts in the after-market automotive industry expected: Sears, Roebuck became "one of the largest shareholders" after obtaining a 40% stake in Advance Auto Parts and merging their two store networks, which included Western Auto's wholesale and retail operations. The existing store network of Advance Auto Parts, comprising 915 stores in 17 U.S. states, merged with 590 U.S.-based Parts America Stores in addition to 40 Western Auto stores in the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico ('; abbreviated PR, tnq, Boriken, Borinquen), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Ca ...

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
. In 1997, Sears sold 85% of its Mexico affiliate to
Grupo Carso Grupo Carso or Grupo Sanborns SAB is a Mexican global Conglomerate (company), conglomerate company owned by Carlos Slim. It was formed in 1990 after the merger of Corporación Industrial Carso and Grupo Inbursa. The name Carso stands for Carlos Sl ...
. Sears Holdings continued to produce specialty catalogs and reintroduced a smaller version of the Holiday Wish Book in 2007. In 2003, Sears sold its U.S. retail credit card operation to
Citibank Citibank is the consumer division of financial services Financial services are the economic services provided by the finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they operate within the financial sys ...

Citibank
. The remaining card operations for Sears Canada were sold to
JPMorgan Chase JPMorgan Chase & Co. is an American Multinational corporation, multinational Investment banking, investment bank and financial services holding company headquartered in City of New York, New York City. JPMorgan Chase is Delaware General Corpor ...

JPMorgan Chase
in August 2005. In 2003, Sears opened a new concept store called Sears Grand. Sears Grand stores carry everything that a regular Sears carries, and more. Sears Grand stores are about . A 2021 article in
Forbes ''Forbes'' () is an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family The Forbes family is one of the Boston Brahmins—a wealthy extended American family long prominent in Boston, Massachusett ...

Forbes
states that most Sears Grand stores shuttered by 2010. On November 17, 2004, Kmart Holdings Corporation announced it would acquire Sears, Roebuck, and Co. for $11 billion after Kmart completed its recovery from bankruptcy. As a part of the acquisition, Kmart Holding Corporation, along with Sears, Roebuck, and Co., was transformed into the new
Sears Holdings Corporation Sears Holdings Corporation was an American holding company A holding company is a company whose primary business is holding a controlling interest in the securities of other companies. A holding company usually does not produce goods or se ...
. The new company started trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange as SHLD; Sears sold its single-letter ticker symbol 'S' in the
New York Stock Exchange The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, nicknamed "The Big Board") is an American stock exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange Exchange may refer to: Places United States * Exchange, Indiana Exchange is an U ...

New York Stock Exchange
that it had held since 1910 to
Sprint Corporation Sprint Corporation was an American telecommunications Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over , radio, , or other systems. It has its origin in the desire of humans for communication over ...
. The new corporation announced that it would continue to operate stores under both the Sears and Kmart brands. In 2005, the company began renovating some Kmart stores and converting them to the Sears Essentials format, only to change them later to Sears Grands. The combined company's profits peaked at $1.5 billion in 2006. By 2010, the company was no longer profitable; from 2011 to 2016, the company lost $10.4 billion. In 2014, its total debt ($4.2 billion at the end of January 2017) exceeded its market capitalization ($974.1 million as of March 21, 2017). Sears declined from more than 3,500 physical stores to 695 US stores from 2010 to 2017. Sales at Sears stores dropped 10.3 percent in the final quarter of 2016 when compared to the same period in 2015. Sears spent much of 2014 and 2015 selling off portions of its balance sheet; namely, Lands' End and its stake in
Sears Canada Sears Canada Inc. was a publicly-traded Canadian company affiliated with the American-based Sears Sears, Roebuck and Co., commonly known as Sears, is an American chain of department stores founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curti ...
, one of the biggest e-commerce players in Canada, with C$505 million in sales in 2015—more than Walmart and others who had begun pushing aggressively into online sales, such as
Canadian Tire Canadian Tire Corporation Limited is a Canadian retail Retail is the sale of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, ...
. Sears stated that the company was looking to focus on becoming a more tech-driven retailer. Sears's CEO and top shareholder said the sell-off of key assets in the last year had given the retailer the money it needs to speed up its transformation. Sears Holdings had lost a total of US$7 billion in the four years to 2015. In part, the retailer was trying to curb losses by using a loyalty program called Shop Your Way. Sears believed the membership scheme would enhance repeat business and customer loyalty in the long term. CEO
Eddie Lampert Edward Scott Lampert (born July 19, 1962) is an American billionaire businessman and investor. He is the former CEO and chairman of Sears Holdings (SHLD), founder of Transform Holdco LLC, and founder, chairman, and CEO of ESL Investments. Until May ...
also concluded an arrangement that sold the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. for approximately US$900 million. In October 2017, Sears and appliance manufacturer
Whirlpool Corporation Image:HK Causeway Bay Leighton Road Whirlpool Showroom a.jpg, 200px, Showroom in Hong Kong The Whirlpool Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational manufacturer and marketer of home appliances, headquartered in Benton ...
ended their 101-year-old association, reportedly due to pricing issues, although Whirlpool continued supplying Sears with
KenmoreKenmore may refer to: Places Australia * Kenmore, Queensland, a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland * Kenmore Asylum, a decommissioned psychiatric hospital located in Goulburn, New South Wales * Kenmore Bypass, a proposed major road in Brisbane * Kenm ...
-branded appliances. In May 2018, Sears announced it had formed a "special committee" to explore the sale of Kenmore.


Bankruptcy and current operations

On September 24, 2018, the retailer's CEO warned that the company was "running out of time" to salvage its business. Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15, 2018, ahead of a $134 million debt payment due that day. On November 23, 2018, Sears Holdings released a list of 505 stores, including 266 Sears stores, that were for sale in the bankruptcy process, while all others would hold liquidation sales. On January 16, 2019, Sears Holdings announced it would remain open after Lampert won a bankruptcy auction for the company with an offer to keep about 400 stores open. On February 7, 2019, a bankruptcy judge approved a $5.2 billion plan by Sears's chairman and biggest shareholder to keep the business going. The approval meant roughly 425 stores, including 223 Sears stores, and 45,000 jobs would be preserved. In April 2019, Sears announced the opening of three new stores with a limited set of merchandise under the name Sears Home & Life. Also that month, Sears closed its store at Windward Mall in
Kaneohe, Hawaii Kāneohe () is a census-designated place (CDP) included in the Honolulu County, Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu and located in Hawaii, Hawaii state District of Koolaupoko on the island of Oahu, Oahu. In the Hawaiian language, ''kāne ohe'' ...
, and its store at
Oakbrook Center Oakbrook Center is a shopping center A shopping center (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to ...
in
Oak Brook, Illinois Oak Brook is a village A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet but smaller than a town (although the word is often used to describe both hamlets and smaller towns), with a populatio ...
, making it the first post-bankruptcy closure for the brand since being bought by ESL. On June 3, 2019, the company announced that
Transform Holdco Transform SR Brands LLC (trade name, doing business as Transformco, referred to as "New Sears") is an American privately held company formed on February 11, 2019, to acquire some of the assets of Sears Holdings, Sears Holdings Corporation. The ne ...
would acquire Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores. As per deal, it might need to divest its Sears Outlet division to gain approval. On August 6, 2019, it was announced that 26 stores, including 21 Sears stores, including the last Sears store in
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (state song), Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat ...

Alabama
, at
Riverchase Galleria Riverchase Galleria at night Riverchase Galleria, locally known as The Galleria, is a large, super–regional shopping mall and mixed use development in Hoover, Alabama Hoover is a city in Jefferson County, Alabama, Jefferson and Shelby County, ...
in Hoover, and the last Sears store in
West Virginia West Virginia () is a U.S. state, state in the Appalachian region, Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States.The United States Census Bureau, Census Burea ...
, at Huntington Mall in Barboursville, would be closing in October, with plans to "accelerate the expansion of our smaller store formats which includes opening additional Home & Life stores and adding several hundred Sears Hometown stores after the Sears Hometown and Outlet transaction closes." On August 31, 2019, it was announced that Transform would close an additional 92 stores, including 15 Sears stores, by the end of 2019. 100 more stores closed by January 2020. 51 Sears stores were closed in February 2020. More stores continued to close throughout 2020 and 2021. As of September 16, 2021 the company's website listed 35 Sears stores. Near the end of 2019, Sears sold the brand name DieHard to Advance Auto Parts for $200 million. In September 2021, Sears announced that they will close more stores, including the last Sears store in New York City. The New York City Sears store is set to close by November 24, 2021, and will potentially be demolished for redevelopment. The last remaining Sears store on Long Island at Sunrise Mall was closed by October 3, 2021. The last remaining Sears store in Illinois at
Woodfield Mall Woodfield Mall is a shopping mall located in the northwest Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive maps of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footno ...

Woodfield Mall
was closed on November 14, 2021.


Corporate affairs


Logo

File:Sears, Robuck & Co. letterhead 1907.jpg, Logo used in 1907 File:Sears logo 1966-1984.svg, Logo used from 1966 to 1984 File:Sears1984.png, Logo used from 1984 to 1994 File:Sears logo 1994-2004.svg, Logo used from 1994 to 2004; this logo is still used by Sears in Mexico File:SearsLogo.svg, Logo used from 2004 to 2010 in the United States File:Sears logo 2010-present.svg, Logo used from 2010 to 2019


Sponsorships

Before the company filed for bankruptcy, Sears sponsored many entertainment and sporting events. From 2006 until 2020, it had the naming rights to an 11,000-seat multi-purpose family entertainment, cultural and sports center in Hoffman Estates that was previously known then as the
Sears Centre The Now Arena (originally known as the Sears Centre, Sears Centre Arena and stylized as NOW Arena) is a multi-purpose arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a northwest suburb from Chicago, near land which formerly contained the Poplar Creek Music ...
but has since been renamed the Now Arena. The company sponsored the television series ''
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ''Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'' (''EM:HE''; sometimes informally referred to as ''Extreme Home Makeover'') is an American reality television Reality television is a genre of television programming that documents purportedly unscripted rea ...
''. The company also underwrote the
PBS The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster Public broadcasting involves , and other electronic media outlets whose primary mission is . In many countries of the world, comes from governments, especially vi ...
television series ''
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood ''Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'' (sometimes shortened to ''Mister Rogers'') is an American half-hour educational Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, ...
'', under the name The Sears-Roebuck Foundation, from the show's premiere in 1968 until 1992. Through the Sears Auto Centers, the company sponsored the Formula Drift Darren McNamara Sears/Falken Saturn Sky drift car. It sponsored the
NASCAR#REDIRECT NASCAR The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock car racing Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing found m ...

NASCAR
Truck Series, using the Craftsman brand as the title sponsor, from the series' inception in the
1995 NASCAR SuperTruck Series presented by Craftsman The 1995 NASCAR SuperTruck Series presented by Craftsman was the inaugural season of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, SuperTruck Series. The season began on February 5, 1995, and ended on October 28. Mike Skinner (racing driver), Mike Skinne ...
to the 2008 season, when the agreement ended. It sponsored the #10
Gillett Evernham Motorsports Evernham Motorsports was an American professional stock car racing Stock car racing is a form of Auto racing, automobile racing run on oval track racing, oval tracks measuring approximately . It originally used production-model cars, hence the ...
car of Scott Riggs for the September 2, 2007, running of the Sharp AQUOS 500 at
California Speedway California Speedway, formerly known as the Auto Club Speedway for sponsorship reasons, is a two-mile (3 km), low-banked, D-shaped oval superspeedway Oval track racing is a form of closed-circuit motorsport Motorsport, motorsports or ...
through its Sears Auto Center branch. However, Riggs failed to qualify for the event. In 2016, Craftsman became the title sponsor of the World Racing Group, World of Outlaws Sprint car racing series.


Employee relations

Sears has struggled with employee relations. One notable example was the shift in 1992 from an hourly wage based on longevity to a base wage (usually between US$3.50 and US$6 per hour) and commissions ranging from 0.5% to 11%. Sears claimed the new base wage, often constituting a substantial (up to 40%) cut in pay, was done "to be successful in this highly competitive environment". In early October 2007, Sears cut commission rates for employees in some departments to between 0.5% and 4% but equalized the base wage across all Home Improvement and Electronics departments. In 2011, commission rates on non-base items were cut by 2% in the electronics department. In late 2009, the electronic department's commission on "base items" was cut to 1%. As of 2017, appliances is the only remaining department where compensation is based entirely on commission. Other departments give a base pay plus commission. In many stores, jewelry department associates receive a low base salary with a 1% commission on their sales. In March 2019, Sears claimed that it was ending
life insurance Life insurance (or life assurance, especially in the Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territorie ...
benefits for an undisclosed number of its 90,000 retirees. A few months earlier, the company handed out over $25 million in bonuses to executives. This key Sears Retiree Benefit was worth between $5,000 and $15,000 for most of the pool (29,000) of eligible retired employees. In May 2019, former Sears Holdings chairman and CEO
Eddie Lampert Edward Scott Lampert (born July 19, 1962) is an American billionaire businessman and investor. He is the former CEO and chairman of Sears Holdings (SHLD), founder of Transform Holdco LLC, and founder, chairman, and CEO of ESL Investments. Until May ...
, months after purchasing the remains of Sears from the holding company, threatened not to pay out the $43 million in pension payments owed to 90,000 former Sears and Kmart employees and retirees. A ''
Forbes ''Forbes'' () is an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family The Forbes family is one of the Boston Brahmins—a wealthy extended American family long prominent in Boston, Massachusett ...

Forbes
'' editorial pointed out that
Steven Mnuchin Steven Terner Mnuchin ( ; born December 21, 1962) is an American investment banker and film producer who served as the 77th United States secretary of the treasury as part of the Cabinet of Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021. Previously, Mnuchin ha ...

Steven Mnuchin
,
Secretary of the Treasury The United States secretary of the treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury The Department of the Treasury (USDT) is the national treasury A treasury is either *A government department related to finance and t ...
, was a board member of Sears Holding until 2016, and was, at the time, one of three directors of the
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is a United States federally chartered corporation created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) (, codified in part at ) is ...
, which manages administration of pensions for defunct or bankrupt businesses.


Gallery

File:Sears PDN.jpg, Mall entrance to the Sears store at Plaza del Norte in Hatillo,
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
, as shown in 2011. This store closed in April 2021. File: Sears Auto Center.jpg, Sears Auto Center at Steeplegate Mall in
Concord, New Hampshire Concord () is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually as it ...
, as shown in 2017. The Auto Center and the main Sears store at this location closed in February 2020. File:2006 Sears Hawthorn Center.jpg, Exterior of the Sears at the Westfield Hawthorn in
Vernon Hills, Illinois Vernon Hills is a suburb north of Chicago, Illinois in Lake County, Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departme ...
, as shown in 2006. This location closed in August 2018. This location was demolished in 2021. File:1.8.09ParamusParkMallByLuigiNovi3.jpg, Mall entrance to the former Sears at
Paramus Park Paramus Park is a shopping mall located in Paramus, New Jersey, Paramus, New Jersey, United States. It opened in 1974, is owned by Brookfield Properties, and has a gross leasable area (GLA) of . Description Paramus Park is located on a plot o ...
in
Paramus, New Jersey Paramus ( Waggoner, Walter H ''The New York Times'', February 16, 1966. Accessed October 16, 2018. "Paramus – pronounced puh-RAHM-us, with the accent on the second syllable – may have taken its name from 'perremus' or 'perymus,' Indian for ...

Paramus, New Jersey
, as shown in 2009. This location closed in 2018. File:Sears, Roebuck and Company Warehouse and Service Center -- Houston, Texas.jpg, Sears, Roebuck and Company Warehouse and Service Center in
Houston, Texas Houston ( ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city proper, cities pr ...
, as shown in August 2020. On the National Register of Historic Places File:Searsessentials.jpg, Exterior of the Sears Essentials in
Palm Springs, Florida Palm Springs is a village in Palm Beach County, Florida Palm Beach County is located in the southeastern part of the State of Florida and lies directly north of Broward County, Florida, Broward County and Miami-Dade County. According to a 2019 c ...
, as shown in 2010. (reopened as Sears Outlet and closed) File: Sears grand tarentum.JPG, 2013 photo of the mall entrance to the Sears Grand at
Pittsburgh Mills The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills, or simply Pittsburgh Mills, is an ailing super-regional shopping center northeast of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States and the county seat of Allegheny Count ...
in
Tarentum, Pennsylvania Tarentum is a borough A borough is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unit,Article 3(1). country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms ...
. This Sears closed in January 2015. File: Sears Parts Repair Brooklyn.JPG, Exterior of the Sears Parts & Repair Store in
Brooklyn, Ohio Brooklyn is a city in Cuyahoga County, Ohio Ohio is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. Of the List of states and territories of the United States, fifty states, it is the List of U.S ...
, as shown in 2012.


See also

*
Gala-Sears Gala-Sears (Grandes ALmacenes de América-Sears) was the subsidiary of Sears Roebuck in Chile, which formally began operations on April 2, 1982, the day after the opening of Mall Parque Arauco. It was one of the first international commercial ventur ...

Gala-Sears
– defunct Chilean unit *
Sears Canada Sears Canada Inc. was a publicly-traded Canadian company affiliated with the American-based Sears Sears, Roebuck and Co., commonly known as Sears, is an American chain of department stores founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curti ...
– defunct Canadian unit *
Sears (Mexico) Sears Operadora México, S.A. de C.V. is a department store chain located in Mexico, operating more than 95 stores all over Mexico. Sears México is operated by Grupo Carso. History Early History On 26 February 1947, the first Sears in Mex ...
– Mexican unit held by
Grupo Carso Grupo Carso or Grupo Sanborns SAB is a Mexican global Conglomerate (company), conglomerate company owned by Carlos Slim. It was formed in 1990 after the merger of Corporación Industrial Carso and Grupo Inbursa. The name Carso stands for Carlos Sl ...
*
Sears plc Sears plc was a large British-based conglomerate. The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange in the City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremo ...
– former UK company unrelated to U.S. retailer


References


Further reading

*Chang, Myong-Hun, and Joseph E. Harrington Jr. "Organizational structure and firm innovation in a retail chain." ''Computational & Mathematical Organization Theory'' 3.4 (1998): 267–288. compares Sears's Robert E. Wood with Montgomery Ward's Sewell Aver
online
* *Emmet, Boris, and John E Jeuck. ''Catalogs and Counters: A History of Sears, Roebuck, and Company'' (1950), the standard scholarly history *Israel, Fred L. ''1897 Sears, Roebuck, and Co Catalogue 100th Anniversary Edition, ''Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1968. *Katz, Donald R. ''The Big Store: Inside the Crisis & Revolution at Sears'' (1987) *Worthy, James C. ''Shaping An American Institution: Robert E. Wood and Sears, Roebuck'' (1986)


External links

* {{Authority control Companies based in Cook County, Illinois Department stores of the United States Former components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average Hoffman Estates, Illinois Lists of brands by company Mail-order retailers Manufactured home manufacturers Online marketplaces of the United States Sears Holdings American companies established in 1892 Retail companies established in 1892 1892 establishments in Illinois