Sears Roebuck and Company, or Sears for short, was founded in 1820 in New York City by Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck.
The company began as a mail-order business with their first catalog in 1888. By 1894, the catalog was over 300 pages and reached over 500 pages the following year. In 1933, the company published its first Christmas catalog, which later came to be known as the Wish Book. In 1940, the catalog included almost everything a consumer could buy, even ready to assemble houses from kits.
In 1925, the first retail location was opened in Chicago, Illinois.
In 2005, Sears was purchased by Kmart and the Sears Holding Group was formed.
Formerly the #1 retailer in the US, as of 2017, Sears is now the 23rd largest retailer in the United States overall. In 2016, the company had annual revenue of $13.8 billion.
In 1974, the company completed the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago, which became the world’s tallest building at the time. Sears moved to the new Prairie Stone Business Park in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
In late 2016 and early 2017, some significant steps were taken by CEO Edward Lampert in an attempt to make the company solvent. Lampert sold the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for approximately $900 million. During this same period, the company announced that it would close 150 stores (109 Kmart and 41 Sears outlets), in an attempt to cut its losses after a decline in sales of 12 to 13 percent during the holiday shopping season and the largest quarterly loss since 2013.
In October of 2017, Sears and Whirlpool ended their 101-year agreement which allowed Sears and Kmart stores to sell Whirlpool appliances. The companies were unable to come to an agreement on pricing issues.
The company currently operates over 2200 stores in the US and employs more than 89,000 persons. The Sears corporate office is located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
In June 2018, Sears announced that they would be closing 48 Sears locations and 15 Kmart stores. The company hoped that this would help them be able to repay their multi-million dollar debt.
The company continues to suffer from poor sales and a shattered reputation. In November 2021, the last Sears location in the state of Illinois closed its doors and the only location in Hawaii also shut down.