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The original Sears, Roebuck and Co. store in Mason City, Iowa opened March 5, 1936, in the depths of the Great Depression. This two-story store was located at 23-25 E. State Street in downtown Mason City. The new store welcomed residents with a wide range of merchandise.

In 1936 Sears Chairman Lessing Rosenwald and President Robert Wood directed the company. The company’s net sales for 1936 amounted to $494,968,022.14, and Sears employed over 48,000 people. That year Sears operated 440 department stores and 11 Catalog and Merchandise Distribution Centers across the country.

Expanding sales and new product assortments soon made the downtown store location too small, and on February 26, 1959, Sears relocated the Mason City store to the brand new South Federal Avenue shopping center. Sears became a major tenant at the shopping center, located on 22 acres at 19th S.W. and Federal on land formerly occupied by the North Iowa Fair. The new single story medium size department store was one of sixteen Sears stores relocated to larger quarters that year.

In 1959, Sears’ net sales exceeded $4 billion dollars. Sears operated 734 retail stores and employed over 230,000 people. Some of the more popular products sold this year included permanent press dress shirts, and washers and dryers with "wash and wear" cycles.

The new 80,000-foot Mason City store featured a 36,000 square foot selling area. The store included a large furniture showroom and appliance center, a candy counter, carpet sales, a 260,000 square foot parking lot for 650 cars, an employee cafeteria, and an 8-car service station. The Mason City store was the second largest Sears store in Iowa, employing 120 people. The 1,000 residents attending the opening day rally looked over nearly 100,000 different items.

In 1993 Sears expanded its store in the Southport Shopping Center by moving into space formerly occupied by two other stores adjacent to the Sears store. The expansion allowed the company to change some of the merchandise mix and offer a larger assortment of items to customers. The store was completely revamped and organized from a customer convenience standpoint. The new Brand Central appliance department gave Mason City shoppers a wider choice of name brand appliances.

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