The Entrepreneurs Who Introduced Mail-Order Catalogues

Posted on March 16, 2012

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Alvah Roebuck was a humble watchmaker in the late 1800s, trying to find a new job. He responded to an advertisement in the Chicago Daily News with the hopes of getting a new job. A couple of days later, he got what he wanted and more. Richard Warren Sears, the employer and his soon-to-be business partner, hired him.

Roebuck and Sears would proceed to form Sears, Roebuck, and Company, one of the largest and most well-known business partnerships today. Among the 50 greatest entrepreneurs in the retail industry, they first popularized their company with mail-order catalogs that had a wide variety of goods – from sewing machines to musical instruments. This became the foundation of one of America’s very first retail firms.

Roebuck sold his shares in the company before the turn of the century, leaving Sears to oversee the empire they have started. Although Sears today has lost out on major retailers like Wal-Mart, the innovation that Sears and Roebuck introduced is nevertheless imprinted in the business industry.

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Posted in: Entrepreneurs