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Fast facts

Sears Settles in Chicago

The following year, Sears moved his business to Chicago and inserted a classified ad in the Chicago Daily News.

"WANTED: Watchmaker with reference who can furnish tools. State age, experience and salary required. ADDRESS T39, Daily News."

Alvah RoebuckAn Indiana lad, Alvah C. Roebuck answered the ad. He told Sears he knew watches and brought a sample of his work to prove it. Sears hired him. Here began the association of two young men, both still in their twenties, that was to make their names famous. For it was in 1893 that the corporate name of the firm became Sears, Roebuck and Co.

By the time Sears was started, farmers in rural America were selling their crops for cash and buying what they needed from rural general stores. But when they laid their money on the line for goods, farmers saw red. In 1891 the wholesale price of a barrel of flour was reported to be $3.47. Price at retail was at least $7, a 100 percent increase. Farmers formed protest movements, such as the Grange, to do battle against high prices and the "middleman."

Sears, Roebuck and Co. and other mail-order companies were the answer to farmers' prayers. Thanks to volume buying, to the railroads and post office, and later to rural free delivery and parcel post, they offered a happy alternative to the high-priced rural stores. Years later the company adopted the motto "Shop at Sears and Save." Because farmers could do so in the 1890s, Sears prospered.


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