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Richard W. Sears

Richard W. SearsAKA Richard Warren Sears

Born: 7-Dec-1863
Birthplace: Stewartville, MN
Died: 28-Sep-1914
Location of death: Waukesha, WI
Cause of death: Kidney failure
Remains: Buried, Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago, IL

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Sears, Roebuck founder

Richard W. Sears quit school after his father's death, and worked for several years as a telegraph operator and railroad station agent. He was 23 years of age when the recipient for a shipment of watches was unable to pay the "cash on delivery" charges at the rail station. Instead of returning the package to its sender, Sears telegraphed the manufacturer and offered to sell the watches himself, paying the COD charge and splitting the profits with the watchmaker. He went into business as the R.W. Sears Watch Company, selling by mail-order. Sales were brisk, and when watches were returned for repair Sears hired watchmaker Alvah C. Roebuck, who soon became a partner in the business.

In 1887 the company published its first catalog, offering watches and jewelry, and within a few years bicycles, saddles, shoes, and other goods were listed for sale. Sears was noted for his horrendous management skills -- for example, he would simply burn incoming orders when the merchandise was out of stock -- but he had a knack for salesmanship in writing his company's catalogs. In one of his more effective innovations, he invited his customers to distribute the company's catalog, in return for a small percentage of any sales that resulted. By 1906 the Chicago headquarters of Sears Roebuck sprawled over 3,000,000 square feet, making it the largest single business in the world at the time, at least in terms of land use. At his death, Sears (the man) was reported to be worth about $20M.

Father: James Warren Sears (blacksmith, b. 12-Aug-1828, d. 1899)
Mother: Eliza A. Benton (b. 1842)
Sister: Alta Kate Sears (b. Oct-1869)
Sister: Eva Sears (b. Jun-1871)
Wife: Anna Lydia Meckstroth (b. Jun-1868, m. 20-Jun-1895, d. 1946)
Daughter: Sylvia Sears Gardner (b. 1896)
Son: Richard Warren Sears , Jr. (b. 1896, d. 1945)
Son: Wesley Sears (b. circa 1898, d. 1944)
Daughter: Serena Sears Griess (b. circa 1900, d. 1942)

    Sears Roebuck Founder & President (1886-1908)
    English Ancestry

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