Born sometime around 1863 in Minnesota, Richard Warren Sears parents were far from rich. His father was a blacksmith with poor business sense. His mother a homemaker. When Sears was fourteen, his father lost what money they had in a investment failure. Sears started earning the money for the family.

He taught himself telegraphy and started working for the railroad as a station agent. An incorrect address on a shipment of watches started him on the path of the salesman. He wrote to the watch company, offering a price half the original for the entire case, and then sold the watches at a slightly higher rate than he paid for them. He continued this business agreement with the watch company, creating the R. W. Sears Watch Company.
Richard Warren Sears

Once he left the railroad, he threw himself fully into selling watches. Soon, he realized he needed to offer a maintenance plan for his watches as well. He advertised in the local papers, and thus the profitable relationship with Alvah Curtis Roebuck developed. By twenty-five years of age, Sears had made enough money to retire and live comfortably for the rest of his life. However, he found he couldn't simply retire. He lived for business and the art of merchandising.

Sears continued with his company until 1908, when he retired at the age of 44. He was now worth millions. When he resigned as president, he was given the position of Chairman, Board of Directors. He never attended meetings and soon relinquished that position as well. He died in 1914.

Return to Sears, Roebuck