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Old 11-05-2013, 12:41 PM
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Sears & Roebuck....

...a history lesson.


"CHEAP WATCHES"


"If you were in the market for a watch in 1880, would you know where to get one? You would go to a store, right? Well, of course you could do that, but if you wanted one that was cheaper and a bit better than most of the store watches, you went to the train station! Sound a bit funny? Well, for about 500 towns across the northern United States, that's where the best watches were found.

Why were the best watches found at the train station? The railroad company wasn't selling the watches, not at all The telegraph operator was. Most of the time the telegraph operator was located in the railroad station because the telegraph lines followed the railroad tracks from town to town. It was usually the shortest distance and the right-of-ways had already been secured for the rail line.

Most of the station agents were also skilled telegraph operators and that was the primary way that they communicated with the railroad. They would know when trains left the previous station and when they were due at their next station. And it was the telegraph operator who had the watches. As a matter of fact they sold more of them than almost all the stores combined for a period of about 9 years.

This was all arranged by "Richard", who was a telegraph operator himself. He was on duty in the North Redwood, Minnesota train station one day when a load of watches arrived from the East. It was a huge crate of pocket watches. No one ever came to claim them.

So Richard sent a telegram to the manufacturer and asked them what they wanted to do with the watches. The manufacturer didn't want to pay the freight back, so they wired Richard to see if he could sell them. So Richard did. He sent a wire to every agent in the system asking them if they wanted a cheap, but good, pocket watch. He sold the entire case in less than two days and at a handsome profit.

That started it all. He ordered more watches from the watch company and encouraged the telegraph operators to set up a display case in the station offering high quality watches for a cheap price to all the travelers. It worked! It didn't take long for the word to spread and, before long, people other than travelers came to the train station to buy watches.

Richard became so busy that he had to hire a professional watch maker to help him with the orders. That was Alvah. And the rest is history as they say.


The business took off and soon expanded to many other lines of dry goods. Richard and Alvah left the train station and moved their company to Chicago -- and it's still there.

YES, IT'S A LITTLE KNOWN FACT that for a while in the 1880's, the biggest watch retailer in the country was at the train station. It all started with a telegraph operator: Richard Sears and his partner Alvah Roebuck!"
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Old 11-05-2013, 12:58 PM
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now thats cool...
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Old 11-05-2013, 01:38 PM
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had no idea
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Old 11-05-2013, 02:11 PM
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Thanks for the history Lesson TJ..
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Old 11-05-2013, 02:34 PM
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Third partner was Al Gore!!!
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Old 11-05-2013, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 97FASTech View Post
Third partner was Al Gore!!!
and that explains why they are loosing their azz now.
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Old 11-05-2013, 06:26 PM
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I thought it was a cool bit from American business history, and never would have guessed that's how they got started.
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Old 11-05-2013, 06:42 PM
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Every great business has to start from somewhere. Great story!
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:18 PM
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that's a cool fact! thanks for the American business lesson TJ!
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:42 PM
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telegraph operators, including modern day ones, are very, very, very smart people.
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Old 11-05-2013, 08:38 PM
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Nice find, TJ...
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Old 11-06-2013, 08:46 AM
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Cool story-
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:27 AM
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Did a little more looking, interesting stuff



Richard Warren Sears was a railroad station agent in North Redwood, Minnesota, when he received an impressive shipment of watches from a Chicago jeweler which were unwanted by a local jeweler. Sears purchased them, then sold the watches for a considerable profit to other station agents, then ordered more for resale. Soon he started a business selling watches through mail order catalogs. The next year, he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he met Alvah C. Roebuck, who joined him in the business.

Lafayette, Indiana-born Alvah Roebuck began work as a watchmaker in a Hammond, Indiana, jewelry store at age 12. On April 1, 1887, he answered an advertisement for a watchmaker in the Chicago Daily News, and two days later he received a reply from Richard Warren Sears, who wanted to hire him. Thus began the association of two men who would soon form one of the world's best-known business partnerships.

In 1893, Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck renamed their watch company Sears, Roebuck & Company and began to diversify. The company had sales of $800,000 in 1895, but the national Panic of 1893--a full scale depression--caused a cash squeeze and large quantities of unsold merchandise. Roebuck decided to quit (though he later returned in a publicity role). Sears offered Rosebuck's half of the company to Chicago businessman Aaron Nusbaum, who in turn brought in his brother-in-law Julius Rosenwald, to whom Sears owed money. In August 1895, they bought Roebuck's half of the company for $75,000. The new Sears, Roebuck and Company was re-incorporated in Illinois with a capital stock of $150,000 in August 1895. Sears and Rosenwald got along well, but Nusbaum was a problem. Sears and Rosenwald bought him out for $1.3 million in 1903.

In 1925 it began opening local department stores. The business peaked in the 1950s and 1960s, then began a long, slow contraction. In 2005 it was bought out by Kmart, which renamed itself Sears Holdings.
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