It is not clear when Sears, Roebuck and Co. opened the first New
York buying office, but in an undated company directory, which
predates the first 1907 Sears company directory lists a New York
office at 438 Broadway, managed by Robert P. Sniffen. The New
York City buying office was an important part of the company’s
buying organization. At the time Sears was strictly a mail order
catalog company with all other buying offices located in
In 1920, the New York office, now at 115 Fifth Avenue,
included a staff of 17 buyers and support personnel. The New
York buyers bought everything from housing supplies to clothing.
When Sears began opening retail stores in 1925, the company
discovered that the retail store customer was more fashion
conscious than the catalog customer was. This increased the
importance of the New York City buying offices.
In 1928, the New York office became Department 664 and moved
to new offices at 881 Broadway. This office included the New
York headquarters for the company’s Modern Homes catalog home
program. Sears briefly experimented with employing a
construction crew in New York City that built the larger catalog
homes and contracted out for home remodeling.
In 1930, Sears purchased a quarter interest in the Henry Rose
Stores (Henry Rosenzweigh owned the Henry Rose stores), a
fashion company operating in New York City. The Henry Rose
buying offices were located at 55 W. 13th Street in
New York City. The idea was to use the Henry Rose Stores to
improve the company’s fashion lines. Sears management
recognized that the company’s centralized buying system in
Chicago could not keep up with the rapidly changing women’s
ready-to-wear fashions. Sears contracted with the Henry Rose
company to merchandise all ladies’ ready-to-wear and millinery
in the retail stores around the country. The Henry Rose stores
shipped ready-to-wear and millinery to all Sears store
locations, set up the store displays, restocked the merchandise
and shared in the profits. In 1944, Henry Rose became a wholly
owned Sears subsidiary.
The Sears New York office, located at 360 W. 31st
Street in 1940, included over 128 buyers and support staff.
Staff included a New York Catalog Production Manager, Group
Credit Supervisor, Personnel Manager, and physician.
When James Button ran the New York office in the 1960s, the
office included its own Public Relations department, Merchandise
Development Design and Testing Lab, and a Fashion Merchandising
By 1977, over 70 percent of the women’s wear that Sears
bought came from the New York offices. The New York testing lab
focused resources primarily on testing garments and fabric
In 1978, Sears announced that the New York buying offices
were moving to downtown Chicago in an effort to make operations
more efficient. Sears completed this move in April 1979,
officially closing the New York office, although some buyers did
remain in New York.
Sears briefly had a store in New York City. In 1960 a Sears
"B3" size store. The "B3" size store was a
fairly small store stocking primarily softlines. This store
opened near the company’s New York offices on 31st
street. Sears closed this store in 1965.