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INDUSTRIES: Business History of Retail - Discount Stores
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1872 - Aaron Montgomery Ward established first mail-order business at Clark and Kinzie Streets in Chicago, with $2,400 capital; single-sheet catalog offered 163 items; 1904 - sent 3 million catalogs (4 pounds each) to customers; 1926 - opened first retail store in Plymouth, IN; 1929 - 531 stores; 1939 - staff copywriter Robert L. May (34) created character of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as part of Christmas sales promotion; 1946 - 6 million copies of storybook distributed; first retailer in United States to guarantee satisfaction to his customers; 1968 - merged with Container Corp. of America , formed Marcor, Inc.; 1976 - Marcor acquired by  Mobil Oil Corp.;  1985 - catalog terminated; 1988 - acquired by senior management in a 3.8 billion leveraged buyout by senior management (largest in business history at time); December 2000 - company closed

February 22, 1879 - Frank Winfield Woolworth, sales assistant at Alexander Augsbury and William Moore's Augsbury and Moore Dry Goods Store in Watertown, NY since March 24, 1873 (Moore & Smith by 1877), opened  Great 5 Cents Store in Utica, NY with $300 credit in stock from William Moore; pledged to sell "nothing" that cost more than a nickel (had started 5 cent counter for Moore & Smith in September 1878); May 1879 - store failed - wrong location; June 21, 1879 - opened discount variety store in 14-foot storefront in Lancaster, PA (with leftover Utica stock, $300 loan from Moore);  1904 - opened some 120 stores in twenty-one states; November 5, 1909 - first British store opened in Liverpool (762 stores in UK by 1950); 1911 - merged with S. H. Knox & Co. (Seymour H. Knox, cousin, 112 stores), four rival companies in $65 million deal, 596 stores; 1912 - formed F. W. Woolworth Company; went public; 1913 - built Woolworth Building in New York City; 1924 - added to Dow Jones Industrial Average (until 1997); 1997 - company closed last 400 shops; June 12, 1998 - name changed to Venator Group; June 22, 1998 - Woolworth Building sold.

Frank Woolworth, Seymour Knox, Charles Woolworth - F. W. Woolworth Co. (

1882 - John G. McCrorey founded McCrory Stores  in Scottdale, PA.

1886 - Richard W. Sears founded R. W. Sears Watch Co. in North Redwood, MN; 1887 - Alvah C. Roebuck joined company as watch repairman; company relocated to Chicago; 1889 - company sold for $72,000 profit; 1891 - Sears and Roebuck re-established business partnership; 1892 - formed A.C. Roebuck Inc.; 1893 - named changed to Sears, Roebuck and Co.; 1894 - catalog of 322 pages; 1895 - Roebuck lefty company;  Julius Rosenwald became  partner; 1925 - opened first retail stores; 1926 - Allstate brand created; 1945 - sales exceeded $1 billion; 1973 - Sears Tower opened; 1981 - acquired Coldwell Banker, Dean Witter; 1985 - introduced Discover Card; 1993 -  Dean Witter spun off, 20 percent of Allstate sold, Coldwell Banker, Sears Mortgage Banking Group sold; 2002 - acquired Lands' End (largest specialty apparel catalog company, seller of apparel on Internet in U.S.); March 24, 2005 - Sears Holdings merged with with Kmart

1899 - Sebastian Spering Kresge, former employee  and partner of James G. McCrorey (owned half interest in two stores), traded his interest in J. G. McCrory Memphis store and $3,000 for full interest in five and dime store on Woodward Ave. in Detroit; became sole owner; 1900 - started partnership with brother-in-law, Charles J. Wilson; 1907 - bought him out, founded S. S. Kresge Company;  1912 - incorporated; 85 stores, $10 million in sales; March 1, 1962 - Kmart opened first 'superstore' Garden City, MI; opened 417 stores in 8 years; 1977 - renamed K-Mart; 1979 - sales of $11.7 billion, 1,891 stores across United States and Australia; 2002 -filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; 2004- announced merger with Sears.

March 1899 - George Clinton Murphy, cousin of John G. McCrorey, former manager of McCrory store (founded 1882) in Jamestown, NY in 1896, started five-and-10 in Pittsburgh, PA; 1904 - acquired by Woolworth; 1906 - opened variety store in McKeesport, PA; 1911 - acquired by John S. Mack, Walter C. Shaw, former McCrory executives; 1931 - went public; 1934 - 181 Murphy Co. stores in 11 states, Washington, DC; 1976 - operated 529 stores;  1985 - acquired by Ames Department Stores (118 Murphy's Marts, 263 G. C. Murphy variety stores); August 1989 - 131 G. C. Murphy stores (other units closed) acquired by Riklis Family Holdings (McCrory); 2001 - McCrory Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; February 2002 - closed.

April 14, 1902 - James Cash (J. C.) Penney (26) opened first store, The Golden Rule, dry goods and clothing store, in Kemmerer, WY, in partnership with his employers, merchants Thomas M. Callahan, William Guy Johnson; first-year profit of $8,514.36 on annual sales of $28,898.11; 1907 - bought out his partners, opened stores that sold soft goods in small towns; 1913 - incorporated in Utah as J. C. Penney Company, Inc.; 1914 - moved  headquarters from Salt Lake City to New York City to be closer to major sources of merchandise; 1929 - went public; October 11, 1929 - J. C Penney opened store #1252 in Milford, DE; stores in all 48 U.S. states; 1951 - sales over $1 billion; 1973 - 2,053 stores, 300 of which were full-line establishments; 1992 - moved headquarters to Plano, TX; 1997 - acquired Eckerd Drug Stores (nearly 1,750 stores) for $3.3 billion; 2000 - closed about 50 department stores, 300 Eckerd drugstores; January 2002 - name changed to J. C. Penney Corporation; 2008 - launched American Living,  largest brand launch in company's history; October 2010 - 16.5% interest acquired for $13 billion by Pershing Square Capital Management; September 2011 -entered swap contracts for additional 15.9 million shares; late 2011 - acquired worldwide rights for Liz Claiborne family of brands for $288 million; April 2013 - 7.91% interest (17.4 million shares) acquired by Soros Fund Management LLC.

1906 - William Thomas Grant (30) opened the first "W. T. Grant Co. 25 Cent Store" in Lynn, MA with $1,000; 1936 - about $100 million a year in sales; 1972 - 1200 WT Grant Stores in 40 states; October 2, 1975 - largest financial collapse in retailing history occurred, second biggest U.S. company ever to enter bankruptcy proceedings (the biggest was Penn Central Transportation Co. in 1970).

1908 - Edward A. Filene founded Tunnel Bargain Basement (named for its proximity to Washington Street Subway tunnel) to sell overstock from his father's department store (upstairs); January 4, 1909 doors opened; launched concept of "off price" store; renamed Automatic Bargain Basement as new pricing system introduced, “Automatic Mark Down System” (price tag on each item marked with date it hit  selling floor, longer unsold, more price automatically  reduced, first 25%, then 50% , finally 75%; items unsold  given to charity; guaranteed bargains, fast inventory turnover; name changed to Filene's Basement; 1990s - operated 56 stores; August 1998 - filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; March 2000 - acquired by Value City Department Stores Inc. (later Retail Ventures, Inc.); September 2007 - closed flagship store (20% of annual sales) for renovation; April 22, 2009 - acquired by Buxbaum Group (California liquidation company) for nothing (no sale proceeds to RVI); operates 25 stores (closed 11 stores in 2009); May 4, 2009 - filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware, second time in 10 years; plans to sell 17 of 25 stores to Crown Acquisitions for $22 million.

1913 - Abraham "Pop" Cohen, employee of harness shop in Lechmere Square (Cambridge, MA), bought store, renamed it Lechmere Harness Shop; 1923 - converted it to tire store; reamed Lechmere Vulcanizing Company; 1948 - added appliances; name changed to Lechmere Tire & Sales Company, business incorporated; 1965 - became pioneering chain store in discount electronics; February 28, 1969 - acquired by Dayton Hudson Corp.; 1981 - name changed to Lechmere, Inc.; 1987 - sales of $636.3 million (24 stores), $22.7 million profit; July 1989 - acquired by management, with help Berkshire Partners, mall developers Steve Karp and Steve Wiener for $600 million; 1993 - sales of more than $800 million, 24 stores in New England; March 1994 - acquired by Montgomery Ward Holdings for more than $200 million; November 8, 1997 - all (27) stores closed as part of bankruptcy reorganization.

Edward A. Filene (

1921 - Frieda Loehmann, coat buyer for department store, and Charles (son), took $800, opened Original Designer Outlet, women's specialty clothing shop below their apartment at 1476 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn; sold designer overstock; 1930 - Charles C. Loehmann opened women's clothing store on Fordham Road in borough of the Bronx, incorporated as Charles C. Loehmann Corp.; only national discounter of high-fashion, first-quality merchandise (bought manufacturer's overruns, "broken lots" for resale); 1980 - sales of about $160 million, net income of $6.5 million, 48 stores in 21 states; April 1980 - acquired for about $68 million by AEA Investors Inc.; 1983 - acquired by Associated Dry Goods for $96 million; 1988 - acquired by Entrecanales y Tavora S.A. (division of Sefinco Ltd.), and Sprout Group (venture-capital division of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette) for about $170 million; May 1999 - declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy; September 6, 2000 - emerged from bankruptcy protection; 2004 - acquired for $177 million by Arcapita; May 2006 - acquired for $300 million by Istithmar, private equity firm based in Dubai; 55 stores 16 states; November 15, 2010 - declared bankruptcy.

1939 - J. L. Turner and Cal Turner opened J. L. Turner and Son Wholesale in Scottsville, KY; 1955 - Turner's Department Store (Springfield, KY) is converted to first Dollar General store with no item over $1; 1976 - annual sales exceed $100 million for first time; 1989 - 1,300 stores in 23 states, more than 7,000 employees; 1996 - annual sales exceed $2 billion, net income exceeds $100 million; 2002 - opened 6,000th store, sales exceed $6 billion; 2005 - sales exceed $8 billion; 2006 - opened 8,000th store; March 12, 2007 - Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company announced it would pay $6.9 billion to take Dollar General private (8,260 stores).

September 1945 - Helen and Sam Walton borrowed $25,000 from her father, opened Ben Franklin five-and-dime store in Newport, AR (7,800 pop.) in Mississippi delta region (operated them from 1945 - 1962); 1962 - operated nine stores (Walton's 5 & 10) under franchising agreement with Chicago-based Ben Franklin; unable to renew lease on store in Newport; opened first Wal-Mart, with brother, James, 16,000-square-foot outlet in Rogers, AR; 1967 - 24 stores, total $12.6 million in sales; October 31, 1969 - incorporated as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

July 29, 1949 - Mervin Morris opened first Mervyns store in San Lorenzo, CA; 2,800 square feet, two permanent, few part-time employees; opening day sales topped $1,500; 1960 - sales of $2.5 million; 1966 - opened fourth store in east San Jose; April 29, 1971 - went public; 1977 - sales of $361 million; 1978 - merged with Dayton Hudson Corporation; 1983 - opened 100th store; September 2004 - acquired private investment group (Sun Capital Partners, Inc., Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., Lubert-Adler, Klaff Partners, L.P.); 2008 - 177 stores in seven states; may declare bankruptcy due to real-estate markets collapse, funding cut by factoring companies (provide financing for apparel makers).

1962 - Kohl family in Milwaukee opened first store in Brookfield, WI; 1978 - became wholly owned by the BATUS Retail Group, a subsidiary of British-American Tobacco Company; 1986 - acquired by group of investors led by Kohl's senior management; 1992 - largest initial public stock offerings ever made by Wisconsin company; 2002 - sales exceed $9 billion, more than 80,000 employees; October 4, 2006 - largest one day grand opening in company's history -65 new Kohl's stores opened throughout U. S.

May 1, 1962 - Dayton Company entered mass market discount merchandising; opened first Target store in Roseville, MN; October 4, 1966 - Target Stores, Inc. registered "Target" trademark (seven times) first used September 1, 1964 (toothbrushes, razor blades, recording tape, facial tissue and toilet tissue, women's hosiery, dish towels and dish cloths, sanitary napkins); 1968 - Target bullseye logo redesigned to current appearance; 1974 - introduced uniform "plan-o-grams" to plan layout, placement of store interiors, products (consistent guest experience); 1975 - became leading revenue-producer for parent company (Dayton Hudson Corporation, formed in 1969 merger of Dayton Corporation and The J. L. Hudson Company of Detroit); 1979 - $1 billion in annual sales; 1985 - weekly Target stores advertising circular became America’s second-most-read newspaper insert after Sunday comics; 1987 - electronic point of sale scanning in all stores; 2000 - Dayton Hudson Corporation renamed Target Corporation; July 29, 2001 - opened 1,000th store; 2004 - sold Marshall Field’s, Mervyn’s; 2005 - $50 billion in annual sales; 2006 - $1 billion in total charitable giving from 1902-2006; May 2008 - undivided interest in approximately 47% of credit card receivables acquired by JPMorgan Chase.

1963 - Sid and Stanley Goldstein and Ralph Hoagland opened first Consumer Value Store (CVS) Lowell, MA as discount health and beauty aid store in which customers bag their own merchandise; 1964 - CVS name used for first time; 1969 - acquired by Melville Corporation; 1985 - Stanley Goldstein named president of Melville (CEO and chairman in 1986); 1990 - Peoples Drug Stores, 490-store chain, acquired by Melville, merged into the CVS chain; 1996 - Melville Corporation changes name to CVS Corporation; 1997 - acquired Revco D.S., Inc. (more than 2,500 drugstores); 1998 - acquired Arbor Drugs, Inc. for $1.48 billion (chain with more than 200 stores mainly in southeastern Michigan); 2006 - largest drugstore chain in United States in terms of number of stores and number of prescriptions filled; operates more than 4,100 stores in 27 states.

January 15, 1963 - S. S. Kresge Company, Detroit, MI, registered "K Mart" (Retail Variety Store Services) service mark.

October 2, 1975 - W. T. Grant filed for bankruptcy ($1 billion in debt, nation's single biggest retailing failure); result of five years of rapid expansion (410 super-sized Grant outlets had been built around the country), changing product mix (higher priced); 1974 recession = alienated customers, no earnings.

July 12, 1976 - Sol and Robert Price opened Price Club on San Diego; first warehouse club for business shoppers; 1979 - 2 locations, 900 employees, 200,00 members, profit of $1 million; September 1983 - Jeff Brotman and Jim Sinegal opened first Costco warehouse in Seattle; 1984 - 9 Costcos in five states, 200,000 members; Price Club sales exceed $1 billion; 1986 - Price Club had 22 locations, 3.2 million members, 7,300 employees; Costco had 17 locations, 1.3 million members, 3,800 employees; 1989 - Price Club was 3rd most profitable U.S. company; 1992 - Costco opened 100th warehouse; September 1993 - Price Company merged with Costco, formed PriceCostco; 1995 - 200th location opened; 1997 - name officially changed to Costco Companies, Inc.; 1999 -average annual sales per warehouse reached $100 million; August 30, 1999 - name changed to Costco Wholesale Corporation; 2002 - 40.2 million Costco credit card holders, 98,000 employees; 2004 - 5th largest retailer in U.S., 11th largest retailer in world; 2006 - more than 500 warehouse stores worldwide, record sales of $58.96 billion; largest factor in warehouse market.

Sol Price Sol Price - Co-Founder Price Club  (

Jeff Brotman, Chairman, Costco Jeff Brotman - Co-Founder Costco  (

Jim Sinegal - Co-Founder, Costco  (

September 23, 1992 - Bradlees announced it would take over Alexander's department stores in New York City.

January 25, 1993 - Sears announced closing of catalog sales department after 97 years.

July 17, 1997 - Woolworth Corp. announced it was closing its 400 remaining five-and-dime stores across country, ended 118 years in business.

June 22, 2004 - Federal Judge approved class-action sex-discrtimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart; represented 1.6 million female workers.

November 17, 2004 - Kmart announced deal to acquire Sears for $11 billion.

(Bronson's Low-Priced Store), Stella Suberman (2001). The Jew Store. (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 298 p.). Youngest Child. Suberman, Stella --Childhood and youth; Jews --Tennessee --Biography; Jewish businesspeople --Tennessee --Biography; General stores --Tennessee. Bronson's Low-Priced Store, in Concordia, TN; first Jews to ever live in town; 1920 population: 5,318); Aaron Bronson, orphaned from birth, found way to America, found a trade, found wife, set out to find fortune in  place where Jews are unwelcome; moved family from New York City to Concordia, TN to prove himself a born salesman; man whose brand of success proved that intelligence, empathy, liberality, decency could build a home anywhere.

(Casa Boker - founded 1865 by Don Roberto Boker ), Jürgen Buchenau (2004). Tools of Progress: A German Merchant Family in Mexico City, 1865-Present. (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 267 p.). Associate Professor of History (UNC - Charlotte). Casa Boker (Firm) History; Hardware industry Mexico; Mexico City History. 

Don Roberto Boker ( images/Don_Roberto.JPG)

(Clore), Charles Gordon (1984). The Two Tycoons: A Personal Memoir of Jack Cotton and Charles Clore. (London, UK: H. Hamilton, 242 p.). Cotton, Jack, d. 1964; Clore, Charles, d. 1979; Businesspeople--Great Britain--Biography; Real estate business--Great Britain.

(Clore), David Clutterbuck and Marion Devine (1987). Clore: The Man and His Millions. (London, UK: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 224 p.). Clore, Charles, d. 1979; Businesspeople--Great Britain--Biography. Clore was former owner of Sears, Selfridges, William Hill and various chains of shoe shops.

(G. J. Coles & Co.), Judith McLaughlin (1991). Nothing Over Half a Crown: A Personal History of the Founder of the G.J. Coles Stores. (Victoria, NSW: Loch Haven Books, 102 p.). Coles, George James, 1885-1977; G.J. Coles & Co.--Biography; Variety stores--Australia--History.

(Kmart), Marcia Layton Turner (2003). Kmart's Ten Deadly Sins: How Incompetence Tainted an American Icon. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 256 p.). Former Marketing Communications Executive (Eastman Kodak). K-Mart Corporation Management; Business failures United States Case studies. 

(Korvettes), Isadore Barmash (1981). More Than They Bargained For: The Rise and Fall of Korvettes. (New York, NY: Lebhar-Friedman Books/Chain Store Pub. Corp., 301 p.). Korvettes-History.

(S. S. Kresge), Stanley S.  Kresge, as told to Steve Spilos (1979). The S.S. Kresge Story. (Racine, WI: Western Pub. Co., 373 p.). Kresge, Sebastian Spering, 1867-1966; S.S. Kresge Company; Kresge Foundation; Merchants--United States--Biography.

Sebastian S. Kresge - S. S. Kresge (

(McArthurGlen Europe), J. Byrne Murphy (2008). Le Deal: How a Young American in Business, in Love, and in Over His Head, Kick-Started a Multibillion-Dollar Industry in Europe. (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 295 p.). Co-Founder, Deputy Chief Executive of McArthurGlen Europe. Murphy, J. Byrne; Clothing trade --Europe; Retail trade --Europe; Businessmen --Europe; Americans --Europe. Eight years in ultimately successful struggle to implant concept of designer outlet centers (discount fashion malls) in Europe; from nothing to approximately $ billion in sales from 11 centers across Europe; created nearly 8,000 jobs, opened 1,500 stores featuring 500 brands, attracted nearly 40 million shopping visits per year, spawned array of competitors; understanding nuances of foreign cultures key to prospering in multicultural, polyglot, interconnected, globalized world.

(McCrory), Oscar Schisgall (1968). The Magic of Mergers; The Saga of Meshulam Riklis. (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 236 p.). Riklis, Meshulam, 1923-.

(McCrory), Isadore Barmash (1976). For the Good of the Company: Work and Interplay in a Major American Corporation. (New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 299 p.). McCrory Corporation; Department stores--United States; Conglomerate corporations--United States.

(Monoprix), Patricia Kapferer, Tristan Gaston-Breton (2003). Monoprix, au Coeur de las Vie Ville. (Paris, FR: Cherche midi, 155 p.). Monoprix (Firm)--History; Variety stores--France--History; Discount houses (Retail trade)--France--History; Department stores--France--History; Chain stores--France--History.

(Montgomery Ward), Nina Brown Baker; illustrated by Alan Moyler (1956). Big Catalogue: The Life of Aaron Montgomery Ward. (New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 115 p.). Ward, Montgomery Aaron, 1843-1913; Ward, Aaron Montgomery, 1844-1913; Montgomery Ward--History. Aaron Montgomery Ward - Montgomery Ward (

(Montgomery Ward), Booton Herndon (1972). Satisfaction Guaranteed: An Unconventional Report to Today's Consumers. (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 342 p.). Montgomery Ward.

(Montgomery Ward), Frank B. Latham (1972). 1872-1972: A Century of Serving Consumers: The Story of Montgomery Ward. (Chicago, IL: Montgomery Ward, 95 p.). Montgomery Ward--History.

(G. C. Murphy), Jason Togyer (2008). For the Love of Murphy's: The Behind-The-Counter Story of a Great American Retailer. (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 256 p.). Managing Editor of The Link (magazine of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University). G. C. Murphy; stores--discount; five. History of the G. C. Murphy Company (founded 1906); peak - more than 500 stores, outsold F. W. Woolworth Company by three to one; survival, growth during Great Depression; response to strained economy during World War II; fight against rapidly expanding competitors such as K-Mart; struggle, recovery in 1970s; unsuccessful battle to stave off Wall Street raiders in 1980s; adventurous selling tactics, strict code of corporate ethics.

(J. C. Penney), J. C. Penney (1931). J. C. Penney: The Man with a Thousand Partners. (New York, NY: Harper & Brothers, 222 p.). J. C. Penney.

Mr. James Cash Penney James Cash Penney  (

(J. C. Penney), Norman Beasley (1948). Main Street Merchant; The Story of the J.C. Penney Company. (New York, NY: Whittlesey House, 274 p.). Penney, J. C. (James Cash), 1875-1971; J.C. Penney Co.

(J. C. Penney), J.C. Penney (1950). Fifty Years with the Golden Rule. (New York, NY: Harper, 245 p.). J.C. Penney Co.

--- (1960). View from the Ninth Decade; Jottings from a Merchant's Daybook. (New York, NY: T. Nelson, 222 p.). Success.

(J. C. Penney), Beatrice Plumb (1963). J. C. Penney, Merchant Prince; A Biography of a Man Who Built a Business Empire Based on the Golden Rule. (Minneapolis, MN: T. S. Denison, 156 p.). Penney, J. C. (James Cash), 1875-1971.

(J. C. Penney), Ernest Hayes Balyeat (1980). The Way It Was in My Time: An Autobiography. (San Francisco, CA: Balyeat Pub. Co., 227 p.). Balyeat, Ernest Hayes, 1901- ; J.C. Penney Co.; Businesspeople--United States--Biography.

(J. C. Penney), Mary Elizabeth Curry (1993). Creating an American Institution: The Merchandising Genius of J.C. Penney. (New York, NY: Garland Pub., 348 p.). Penney, J. C. (James Cash), 1875-1971; J.C. Penney Co.; Merchants--United States--Biography; Retail trade--United States--History; Stores, Retail--United States--History.

(J. C. Penney), Bill Hare (2004). Celebration of Fools: An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of J.C. Penney. (New York, NY: AMACOM, 294 p.). Penney, J. C. (James Cash), 1875-1971; J.C. Penney Co. History; Stores, Retail United States History; Merchants United States Biography. 

(Savers, Inc.), Paul Grescoe (2005). Pass It On: The Astonishing Story of Savers and Value Village. (Vancouver, BC: Tribute Books, 235 p.). Ellison family; Savers, Inc.; Resale industry--history. 1954 - first store in San Francisco; 2005 - 200 stores, employ more than 7,000 people.

(Sears), M. R. Werner (1939). Julius Rosenwald; The Life of a Practical Humanitarian. (New York, NY: Harper & brothers, 381 p.). Rosenwald, Julius, 1862-1932.

Richard W. Sears - Sears, Roebuck  (

Alvah C. Roebuck - Sears, Roebuck (

Julius Rosenwald - Sears  ( Rosenwald_96.jpg)

(Sears), David L. Cohn; with an introd. by Sinclair Lewis (1940). The Good Old Days: A History of American Morals and Manners as Seen Through the Sears Roebuck Catalog. (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 597 p.). Sears, Roebuck and Company; United States--Social life and customs--1865-1918.

(Sears), Louis E. Asher & Edith Heal (1942). Send No Money. (Chicago, IL: Argus, 190 p.). Sears, Richard Warren, 1863-1914; Sears, Roebuck and Company.

(Sears, Roebuck), Boris Emmet & John E. Jeuck (1950). Catalogues and Counters; A History of Sears, Roebuck and Company. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 788 p.). Sears, Roebuck and Company.

(Sears), Alfred Q. Jarrette (1975). Julius Rosenwald. Son of a Jewish Immigrant, a Builder of Sears, Roebiuck and Company, Benefactor of Mankind: a Biography Documented. (Greenville, SC: Southeastern University Press, 143 p.). Rosenwald, Julius, 1862-1932; Benefactors--United States--Biography.

(Sears), Gordon L. Weil (1977). Sears, Roebuck, U.S.A.: The Great American Catalog Store and How It Grew. (Briarcliff Manor, NY: Stein and Day, 277 p.). Sears, Roebuck and Company--History.

(Sears), James C. Worthy (1984). Shaping an American Institution: Robert E. Wood and Sears, Roebuck. (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 299 p.). Wood, Robert Elkington, 1879-; Sears, Roebuck and Company--Biography; Executives--United States--Biography.

(Sears), Donald R. Katz (1987). The Big Store: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears. (New York, NY: Viking, 604 p.). Sears, Roebuck and Company.

(Sears), Cecil C. Hoge, Sr. (1988). The First Hundred Years Are the Toughest: What We Can Learn from the Century of Competition Between Sears and Wards. (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 283 p.). Sears, Roebuck and Company--History; Montgomery Ward--History.

(Sears), Frederick Asher (1997). Richard Warren Sears, Icon of Inspiration: Fable and Fact About the Founder and Spiritual Genius of Sears, Roebuck & Company. (New York, NY: Vantage Press, 1 vol.). Sears, Richard Warren, 1863-1914; Sears, Roebuck and Company--History; Executives--United States--Biography.

(Sears), Arthur C. Martinez with Charles Madigan (1998). The Hard Road to the Softer Side: Lessons from the Transformation of Sears. (New York, NY: Times Business. Sears, Roebuck and Company--Management; Corporate turnarounds--United States--Case studies.

(Sears), Peter M. Ascoli (2006). Julius Rosenwald: The Man Who Built Sears, Roebuck and Advanced the Cause of Black Education in the American South. (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 392 p.). Faculty of Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago; Grandson of Julius Rosenwald. Rosenwald, Julius, 1862-1932; Sears, Roebuck and Company--History; Businesspeople--United States--Biography; Jewish businesspeople--United States--Biographyl; Philanthropists--United States--Biography; African Americans--Education--Southern states. 1885 - a supplier to Richard Sears; 1895 - became a partner in Sears, Roebuck and Co. when Richard Sears offered Rosenwald's brother-in-law, Aaron Nusbaum, an interest in the company. Nusbaum recruited Rosenwald to join the venture. In 1896, he became a vice president of Sears, Roebuck and Co.; 1908 - named president when Richard Sears resigned; 1924 - became chairman of the board.

(Sears), John M. Oharenko with the Homan Arthington Foundation (2005). Historic Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog Plant. (Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 128 p.). Sears, Roebuck and Company--History; Sears, Roebuck and Company--Pictorial works; Sears Tower (Chicago, Ill.)--History; Historic buildings--Illinois--Chicago; Chicago (Ill.)--History. Located on site of original Sears Tower; completed in 1906, employed 20,000 people, merchandise orders were processed, delivered by rail—within the same day; 1974 - moved to current Sears Tower.

(Simpson-Sears Ltd.), Charles Luther Burton (1952). A Sense of Urgency; Memoirs of a Canadian Merchant. (Toronto, ON: Clarke, Irwin, 363 p.). Simpson (Robert) Company, Ltd.; Simpsons, Ltd.

(Simpson-Sears Ltd.), G. Allan Burton (1986). A Store of Memories. (Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 330 p.). Burton, G. Allan, 1915- ; Simpsons Limited--History; Businesspeople--Canada--Biography.

(Spag), Elsa B. Tivnan and Catherine I. Nickerson (1999). Spag: An American Business Legend. (Worcester, MA: Chandler House Press, 350 p.). Borgatti, Anthony A., 1916-1996.; Businesspeople--New England--Biography; Retail trade--New England.

(Spiegel), James Cornell (1964). The People Get the Credit; The First One Hundred Years of the Spiegel Story, 1865-1965. (Chicago, IL, 171 p.). Spiegel, Inc.

(Spiegel), Orange A. Smalley and Frederick D. Sturdivant. Introd. by Harold F. Williamson (1973). The Credit Merchants; A History of Spiegel, Inc. (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 336 p.). Spiegel, Inc.

(Stein Mart), David J. Ginzl; with a foreword by Eli N. Evans (2004). Stein Mart: An American Story of Roots, Family, and Building a Greater Dream. (Tampa, FL: University of Tampa Press, 172 p.). Stein, Jay, 1945- ; Stein Mart--History; Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--History; Businesspeople--United States--Biography. 

(Target), Laura Rowley (2003). On Target: How the World's Hottest Retailer Hit a Bullseye. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 218 p.). Personal Finance and Career Columnist for Self magazine. Dayton, George Draper, 1857-1938; Target Corporation.

(Wal-Mart), Vance H. Trimble (1990). Sam Walton: The inside Story of America's Richest Man. (New York, NY: Penguin, 319 p.). Walton, Sam, 1918-; Wal-Mart (Firm)--History; Businesspeople--United States--Biography; Millionaires--United States--Biography; Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--History.

Sam M. Walton Sam Walton  (

(Wal-Mart), Sam Walton with John Huey (1992). Sam Walton, Made in America: My Story. (New York, NY: Doubleday, 269 p.). Walton, Sam, 1918- ; Wal-Mart (Firm)--History; Businessmen--United States--Biography; Millionaires--United States--Biography; Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--History; Rich people--United States--Biography.

(Wal-Mart), Sandra S. Vance, Roy V. Scott (1994). Wal-Mart: A History of Sam Walton's Retail Phenomenon. (New York, NY: Twayne Publishers, 220 p.). Walton, Sam, 1918- ; Wal-Mart (Firm)--History; Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--History.

(Wal-Mart), Avis-The-Greeter (1997). What's Wrong at Wal-Mart?: Is America's Greatest Success Story Going Down the Tubes? (Las Vegas, NV: Hamco Books, 356 p.). Wal-Mart, Discount Stores

(Wal-Mart), Bob Ortega (1998). In Sam We Trust: The Untold Story of Sam Walton and How Wal-Mart Is Devouring America. (New York, NY: Times Business, 413 p.). Walton, Sam, 1918- ; Wal-Mart (Firm)--History; Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--History; Businesspeople--United States--Biography.

(Wal-Mart), Robert Slater (2003). The Wal-Mart Decade: How a Generation of Leaders Turned Sam Walton's Legacy into the World's Number One Company. (New York, NY: Portfolio, 256 p.). Former Writer (Time Inc.). Walton, Sam, 1918- ; Wal-Mart (Firm)--History; Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--History; Businessmen--United States--Biography; Retail trade--United States--Management--Case studies; Success in business--United States--Case studies; Entrepreneurship--United States--Case studies; Leadership--United States--Case studies; Corporations--United States--Growth--Case studies. 

(Wal-Mart), Michael Bergdahl (2004). What I Learned from Sam Walton: How Small Businesses Can Compete and Thrive in a Wal-Mart World. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 256 p.). Former Wal-Mart Executive. Wal-Mart (Firm)--Management; Retail trade--Management; Industrial management.

(Wal-Mart), John Dicker (2005). The United States of Wal-Mart. (New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 245 p.). Former Staff Writer (Colorado Springs Independent). Wal-Mart (Firm); Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--Management; Wages--United States; Employee fringe benefits--United States. 

(Wal-Mart), Bill Quinn (2005). How Wal-Mart Is Destroying America (and the world) and What You Can Do About It. (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 158 p. [3rd ed.]). Wal-Mart (Firm); Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States; Retail trade--United States--Personnel management; Small business--United States. How concerned citizens can fight to keep Wal-Mart from invading their towns.

(Wal-Mart), Don Soderquist (2005). The Wal-Mart Way: The Inside Story of the Success of the World’s Largest Company. (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 210 p.). Former Vice Chairman and COO of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart (Firm)--Management; Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--Management. Company's side of the Wal-Mart story. 

(Wal-Mart), Michael Bergdahl (2006). The 10 Rules of Sam Walton: Success Secrets for Remarkable Results. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 259 p.). Former Wal-Mart Executive. Wal-Mart (Firm)--Management; Retail trade--Management; Industrial management. Ten key areas Walton considered most important reasons for his entrepreneurial success.

(Wal-Mart), Anthony Bianco (2006). The Bully of Bentonville: How the High Cost of Wal-Mart’s Everyday Low Prices Is Hurting America. (New York, NY: Currency/Doubleday, 304 p.). Former Senior Writer (BusinessWeek). Wal-Mart (Firm); Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States; Retail trade--United States--Personnel management; Wages--United States; Employee fringe benefits--United States; Small business--United States. Far-reaching consequences of zealous, secretive, small-town mentality: retail wages, aggressive expansion, pricing policies, censorship.

(Wal-Mart), Edited by Stanley D. Brunn (2006). Wal-Mart World: The World’s Biggest Corporation in the Global Economy. (New York, NY: Routledge, 424 p.). Professor, Department of Geogrpahy (University of Kentucky). Wal-Mart (Firm)--Management; International business enterprises--Management; International economic relations. How Wal-Mart managed transition to global company, will play significant role in character of global economy.

(Wal-Mart), Charles Fishman (2006). The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Is Transforming the Rules of the American Economy. (New York, NY: Penguin Press, 304 p.). Senior Editor (Fast Company). Wal-Mart (Firm); Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--Management. Radical ways in which Wal-Mart is transforming America's economy, workforce, communities, environment.

(Wal-Mart), Ed. Nelson Lichtenstein (2006). Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism. (New York, NY: New Press, 256 p.). Professor of History (University of California, Santa Barbara). Wal-Mart (Firm); business practices; management -- retail. 12 essays from an April 2004 conference on Wal-Mart at the University of California, Santa Barbara. World-transforming economic institution of our time. 

(Wal-Mart), William H. Marquard with Bill Birchard (2006). Wal-Smart: What It Really Takes To Profit in a Wal-Mart World. (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 256 p.). Co-Founded Strategic Advisory Services Consulting Practice as a partner at Ernst & Young. Wal-Mart (Firm)--Management; Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--Management. Elements of Wal-Mart’s success  (productivity loop, powerful process disciplines, hidden management "DNA").

(Wal-Mart), Michael J. Hicks (2007). The Local Economic Impact of Wal-Mart. (Youngstown, NY: Cambria Press, 337 p.). Director of the Bureau of Business Research and Associate Professor at Ball State University. Wal-Mart (Firm) -- Economic aspects; Chain stores -- Economic aspects -- United States; Retail trade -- Economic aspects -- United States.

(Wal-Mart), Richard Vedder and Wendell Cox (2007). The Wal-Mart Revolution: How Big-Box Stores Benefit Consumers, Workers, and the Economy. (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 175 p.). Distinguished Professor of Economics (Ohio University); Principal of Wendell Cox Consultancy. Wal-Mart (Firm); Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--Management. Conditions before, after Wal-Mart entered local markets; impact on wages, productivity growth, inflation; conclude that retailer has been force for good.

(Wal-Mart), Stephen Halebsky (2008). Small Towns and Big Business: Challenging Wal-Mart Superstores. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 298 p.). Assistant Professor of Sociology (SUNY-Cortland). Wal-Mart (Firm); Discount houses (Retail trade) --United States; Small cities --Economic aspects --United States; Big business --Social aspects --United States; Quality of life --United States. Anti-superstore controversies, underlying issues surrounding conflict of interests between local communities, large corporations that have become common in contemporary society; how some local social movements prevailed against Wal-Mart; model of general conditions under which to constrain unwanted corporate action.

(Wal-Mart), Nelson Lichtenstein (2009). The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Remade American Business, Transformed the Global Economy, and Put Politics in Every Store. (New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, 320 p.). Professor of History (University of California, Santa Barbara). Wal-Mart (Firm) --Management; Discount houses; (Retail trade) --United States --Management; Retail trade --United States --Management. Phenomenon that transformed international commerce; created new economic order; commercial model for huge swath of global economy; rise closely linked to cultural, religious values of Bible Belt America, imperial politics, deregulatory economics, laissez-faire globalization of Ronald Reagan and his heirs; how company's success transformed American politics; future day of reckoning?

(Wal-Mart), Bethany Moreton (2009). To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 392 p.). Assistant Professor of History and Women’s Studies (University of Georgia). Wal-Mart (Firm); Business --Religious aspects --Christianity; Free enterprise --Religious aspects --Christianity; Discount houses (Retail trade) --United States. Wal-Mart - complex network that united Sun Belt entrepreneurs, evangelical employees, Christian business students, overseas missionaries, free-market activists; how Christian service ethos powered capitalism at home, abroad.

(Wal-Mart), Marjorie Rosen (2009). Boom Town: How Wal-Mart Transformed an All-American Town Into an International Community. (Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 288 p.). Associate Professor of Journalism (Lehman College–CUNY). Personal stories behind growth of Bentonville, AR; microcosm of America’s social, political, cultural shifts; how different ethnicities, races, religions came together, struggled to adapt; imperceptible, unpredictable movements that shaped national persona; Wal-Mart's character as generous, “surprisingly good neighbor”; engine of multiculturalism - incorporated Hindus, Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Marshall Islanders, Latinos into “white-bread” Bible Belt communities; conservative Christian entrepreneurialism.

(Wal-Mart), Edward Humes (2011). Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution. (New York, NY HarperBusiness, 272 p.). Pulitzer Prize winner, Contributing Writer for Los Angeles magazine. Wal-Mart (Firm); Sustainable development. How ecologically responsible practices benefit Wal-Mart's bottom line, how biggest retailer in world is encouraging change; environmental revolution has taken place at Walmart, ignited by alliance between Jib Ellison, river guide-turned-corporate consultant, former CEO Lee Scott; devised solutions, from packaging to promotions (shrunk packaging, saved millions of gallons of water, millions of pounds of cardboard, diesel fuel), store layouts to supply chains, that, due to Walmart's size, saves billions of dollars, thousands of trees, millions of gallons of fossil fuels; ways in which world's biggest corporation is making enormous strides in sustainability; how whole sectors of economy, from dairy to fashion, have begun to embrace Walmart's example.

(Woolworth), John K. Winkler (1940). Five and Ten; the Fabulous Life of F. W. Woolworth. (New York, NY: R.M. McBride & Company, 256 p.). Woolworth, Frank Winfield, 1852-1919.

F. W. Woolworth Frank Winfield Woolworth  (

(Woolworth), Nina Brown Baker (1954). Nickels and Dimes; the Story of F. W. Woolworth. (New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, 134 p.). Woolworth, Frank Winfield, 1852-1919.

(Woolworth), John P. Nichols (1973). Skyline Queen and the Merchant Prince; the Woolworth Story. (New York, NY: Trident Press, 144 p.). Woolworth, Frank Winfield, 1852-1919; F.W. Woolworth Company.

(Woolworth), James Brough (1982). The Woolworths. (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 224 p.). Woolworth family.

(Woolworth), Karen Plunkett-Powell (1999). Remembering Woolworth's: A Nostalgic History of the World's Most Famous Five-and-Dime. (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 248 p.). Woolworth, Frank Winfield, 1852-1919; Woolworth Corporation; Variety stores--History. 

(Woolworth), Earle Perry Charlton, II & George Winius (2001). The Charlton Story: Earle Perry Charlton, 1863-1930: One of the Five Founders of the F.W. Woolworth Company. (New York, NY: P. Lang, 179 p.). Charlton, Earle Perry, 1863-1930; F.W. Woolworth Company; Businessmen--United States--Biography.

(Woolworth), Jean Maddern Pitrone (2003). F.W. Woolworth and the American Five and Dime: A Social History. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 221 p.). F.W. Woolworth Company--History.

(Woolworth), Barbara Walsh (2011). When the Shopping Was Good: Woolworth's and the Irish Main Street. (Portland, OR: Irish Academic Press, 286 p.). F.W. Woolworth Company -- Ireland -- History. 1914 - F.W. Woolworth & Co. Ltd opened first Irish outlet in Grafton Street; ensuing decades - opened almost 40 more stores; 1920s-1930s - turbulent times (domestic political situation, two world wars); 1960s-1970s - shaking up of retail scene; reflected social changes in lives of ordinary people: new shopping habits, new career and employment opportunities, life-long friendships for staff; lives of people who worked for Woolworths, products they sold, competition they faced; world now gone.

Stanley C. Hollander (1986). Discount Retailing, 1900-1952: An Examination of Some Divergences from the One-Price System in American Retailing. (New York, NY: Garland, 321 p.). Discount houses (Retail trade)--United States--History. Series: American business history.

Ellen Ruppel Shell (2009). Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. (New York, NY: Penguin, 320 p.). Correspondent (The Atlantic Monthly). Discount houses (Retail trade) --United States; Consumer behavior --United States. Birth of bargain as we know it, from Industrial Revolution to assembly line, beyond; effects - blighted landscape, escalating debt (personal, national), stagnating incomes, fraying communities, host of other socioeconomic ills;  relentless fixation on low price - most powerful, devastating market force of our time, engine of globalization, outsourcing, planned obsolescence, economic instability in increasingly unsettled world.


Business History Links

Museum of Discount Stores of the '60s                                      index.html     

First-generation discount department stores which began springing up in selected areas as early as 1956--those 65,000 to 110,000 square foot shrines to inexpensive merchandise for the masses with interior walls painted aqua, salmon and dull yellow, with huge, gaudy signs in the midst of the parking lot which often had a large, red arrow pointing straight at the store and rows of neon tubing or flashing light bulbs. Look back at a few of the great old discount department stores of days gone by...with one noteable exception, as you will see.

Sears Archives                                                                                               

In 1887, a man named Richard Sears placed an ad in the Chicago Daily news that read: "WANTED: Watchmaker with reference who can furnish tools. State age, experience, and salary required". A young Hoosier named Alvah C. Roebuck responded and six short years later, the corporate firm of Sears, Roebuck and Co. came into existence. The company became well known for its famed mail-order catalogues (discontinued in 1993), and the fair and expedient services it provided to thousands of rural families. This site brings some of the Sears corporate history to life through narrative historical essays on the company's development, a fine history of its legendary "Big-Book" catalog, and individual store histories as well. For those with an interest in the Sears Modern Homes (sold by Sears from 1908-1940), there is also a great section on these structures, which although not innovative in their designs were part of a broader effort to extend home ownership to the general public. The site is rounded out by a selection of annual company reports and facts about the history of the company.

The Woolworths Virtual Museum                                                                     

To mark the 125th anniversary of the first store opening, our Virtual Museum provides the first permanent archive of the Company's history - taking the store right up to the present day. It's mainly British but includes a little from overseas. You can see pictures of the displays that our great, great, great grandparents shopped before the Great War of 1914-18, visit some of the factories that manufactured the ranges of the 1930s, listen to our first records, and celebrate the bravery of our colleagues through two world wars. The exhibits are arranged in "e-Galleries", each on a different theme. Some show a span of time (for example "the 1910s") while others concentrate on one of our ranges (like "Music and Video").


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