Key Dates in the History of Sears, Roebuck

_1886: Richard W. Sears, a railroad station agent who sells coal as a side job, buys unwanted watches from jeweler and founds R.W. Sears Watch Co. in Minneapolis.

* 1887: Moves company to Chicago and places newspaper ad for watchmaker, hires Alvah C. Roebuck.

* 1893: Firm incorporates as Sears, Roebuck and Co., offering products by mail order to rural residents and farmers at lower-than-general store prices.

* 1896: Issues first general catalog.

* 1906: Opens three-million-square-foot mail order plant in Chicago, largest in world. Opens second plant in Dallas.

* 1908: Richard Sears retires as company president.

* 1909: Company begins selling Sears Motor Buggy. (line discontinued in 1912)

* 1916: Establishes savings and profit sharing program for employees.

* 1925: First Sears retail store opens in catalog center on Chicago's West Side.

* 1927: Launches Craftsman and Kenmore brands.

* 1931: Establishes Allstate Insurance Co.

* 1945: Sears sales pass $1 billion.

* 1953: Establishes Simpsons-Sears Ltd. in Canada.

* 1962: Introduces Vincent Price Fine Arts Collection.

* 1973: Sears moves headquarters to Sears Tower, then world's tallest building.

* 1981: Sears acquires Dean Witter Reynolds and Coldwell, Banker & Co.

* 1985: Debuts Discover Card.

* 1993: Catalog discontinued. Sells 20 percent of Allstate. Sells off Coldwell Banker Residential Services and Sears Mortgage Banking Group.

* 1995: Headquarters move to Hoffman Estates, Ill.

* 1997: Opens Great Indoors stores.

* 2002: Acquires Lands End specialty catalog.

* 2004: Announces merger with Kmart to form Sears Holding Corp.

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Source: Sears, The Associated Press