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Richard Sears.  Richard Sears.2 "If you buy a good watch you will always be satisfied, and at our prices a good watch will influence the sale of another good watch; and that’s our motto: "Make a Watch Sell a Watch." (1892)

Richard Warren Sears was born December 7, 1863, in Stewartville, Minn., to James Warren and Eliza Sears.

His father was a blacksmith and wagon-maker by trade, and in Richard Sears’ early years the family resided in Spring Valley and Mankato, Minn.

Although Sears’ father was at one time fairly prosperous, he lost all of his money—about $50,000—in a failed stock-farm venture. Consequently, at a young age, Richard Sears found it necessary to work in order to help support the family. After learning telegraphy, he was employed by the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad and eventually became a station agent at North Redwood, Minn.

Because of his heavy family burden, Sears looked to supplement his income. In 1886, he found an ideal solution when a local jeweler refused a consignment of watches. Sears asked the manufacturer’s permission to try to sell the watches. Permission was granted, and soon he had sold all of them to fellow agents.

Within six months, Richard Sears’ watch business escalated so much that he resigned from the railroad in 1886 and moved to Minneapolis, where he could devote full time to his growing mail-order enterprise, which he founded that year as the R.W. Sears Watch Company. He was only 22 years old.

Sears joined forces with watch repairman Alvah C. Roebuck in 1887 and then with key financier and future president and chairman Julius Rosenwald in 1895. The headquarters of Sears, Roebuck and Co. had been established in Chicago in 1893.

In 1908, poor health forced Richard Sears to retire from active participation in his company, which had grown to annual sales of $40 million. He died six years later, on September 28, 1914.

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