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.