Co-Founder and 1st President
"If you buy a good watch you will always
be satisfied, and at our prices a good watch
will influence the sale of another good watch;
and that’s our motto: "Make a Watch Sell
a Watch." (1892)
Richard Warren Sears was born December 7, 1863, in
Stewartville, Minn., to James Warren and Eliza Sears.
His father was a blacksmith and wagon-maker by trade, and in
Richard Sears’ early years the family resided in Spring Valley
and Mankato, Minn.
Although Sears’ father was at one time fairly prosperous,
he lost all of his money—about $50,000—in a failed
stock-farm venture. Consequently, at a young age, Richard Sears
found it necessary to work in order to help support the family.
After learning telegraphy, he was employed by the Minneapolis
and St. Louis Railroad and eventually became a station agent at
North Redwood, Minn.
Because of his heavy family burden, Sears looked to
supplement his income. In 1886, he found an ideal solution when
a local jeweler refused a consignment of watches. Sears asked
the manufacturer’s permission to try to sell the watches.
Permission was granted, and soon he had sold all of them to
Within six months, Richard Sears’ watch business escalated
so much that he resigned from the railroad in 1886 and moved to
Minneapolis, where he could devote full time to his growing
mail-order enterprise, which he founded that year as the R.W.
Sears Watch Company. He was only 22 years old.
Sears joined forces with watch repairman Alvah C. Roebuck in
1887 and then with key financier and future president and
chairman Julius Rosenwald in 1895. The headquarters of Sears,
Roebuck and Co. had been established in Chicago in
In 1908, poor health forced Richard Sears to retire from
active participation in his company, which had grown to annual
sales of $40 million. He died six years later, on September 28,