Sears got its start as a watch seller more than 130 years ago and grew to become one of the world’s largest retailers. But the company has struggled in recent years and on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
A look at the company through the years:
1886 — Richard Sears starts the R.W. Sears Watch Co. in Minneapolis.
1888 — The Sears catalog is born, featuring watches and jewelry. By 1894, sewing machines, baby carriages and other items are added.
1893 — The company becomes Sears, Roebuck and Co.
1906 — Sears becomes a public company.
1913 — Sears launches the Kenmore brand of sewing machines. Today, refrigerators, washing machines and other appliances are sold under the name.
1925 — The first Sears brick-and-mortar store opens in Chicago.
1927 — Sears buys the Craftsman trademark for $500 and begins to sell power tools under the brand about two years later. In 2017, it sold the brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. in a $900 million deal.
1931 — Allstate Insurance Co. is launched, offering auto insurance. Sears sold its stake and Allstate became an independent company in the 1990s.
1973 — The company finishes building its new headquarters, the Sears Tower in Chicago. At the time, it was the world’s tallest building at 1,454 feet. Sears sold the landmark in 1994. Its current headquarters are in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
1985 — The Discover Card is introduced nationally. Sears spun off a financial company in the 1990s which included the card.
1993 — Sears stops sending its famous catalog.
2005 — Kmart buys Sears and the company becomes the Sears Holdings Corp.
2017 — The company announces plans to cut $1 billion in costs by selling more store locations, cutting more jobs and putting more of its famous brands on the block.
2018 — Filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Ruth Parrington, librarian in the art department of the Chicago Public Library, studies early Sears Roebuck catalogs. | AP file photo
Women’s hats are pictured in a 1907 Sears Roebuck catalog. | AP file photo
Crowds gather for the grand opening of the Sears store on Chicago’s State St. in 1932. | AP/Sears
Sears Roebuck & Co. Westside headquarters in Chicago, Illinois circa 1920. | Sears via Bloomberg News.
Gen. Robert E. Wood, president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., and Julius Rosenwald, chairman of the board, in the 1930s. | AP file photo
Looking at drapery samples at the Golf-Mill Sears in Niles on Aug. 23, 1961. | AP file photo
The topping ceremonies taking place atop the Sears Tower on May 3, 1973. | AP file photo
Watching the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket launch at Sears on July 16, 1969. | AP file photo
A Sears building in downtown Houston in 1959. | AP file photo
A woman and child ride the escalator at a Sears store in St. Paul, Minn. | AP file photo
Kenmore refrigerators are wheeled into a Kmart to become a “Sears Essentials” store on March 24, 2005. | AP file photo
Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. | AP file photo
Customers shop at Chicago’s last remaining Sears store on May 3, 2018. The store opened in 1938. | Scott Olson/Getty Images
The final shopping day for Sears State St. store in Chicago. April 6, 2014 | Sun-Times files
Daniel Goodwin climbs past the 83rd floor on his way to the top of the Sears Tower in 1981. | Sun-Times files
Alain Robert of Valance, France scales the 1,450-foot Sears Tower in Chicago Friday, Aug. 20, 1999 (AP/WGN)
• Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt
• 142 more Sears, Kmart stores to close
• Warranties, gift cards, discounts? What Chicago Sears shoppers need to know
• Sears chief’s hedge fund offers $400 million for Kenmore brand
• Sears closes its last store in Chicago
Sources: Sears, AP archives