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Sears Catalog

Young Richard Sears was a railroad agent in Redwood, Minnesota when he discovered he could order watches from the manufacturer, then reship them to agents down the line who sold them to local people. Sears launched a mail-order company, later teaming up with Alvah Roebuck.

By 1894, Sears Roebuck & Co. had a 300-page catalog, but orders rolled in so fast that Sears simply burned order forms when he fell too far behind! A brilliant businessman named Julius Rosenwald brought order to the chaos, making many changes and innovations as he made the company work.

By 1908, Sears himself was out of the picture, but even in Rosenwald’s massive overhaul of the business, he was wise enough to preserve the best of the past—the “book,” the famous Sears catalog, which has earned a place in American folklore.

Today in the Word, September 8, 1992