Given last week’s How did Amazon start? blog post and this week’s news about Sears filing for bankruptcy, I figured why not talk about how Sears got started and how it evolved over time.

Sears was the Amazon of its time.


It’s interesting to read that right? Most of us would keep these two businesses – Sears and Amazon – in separate categories but when you see the history you can make the connection that Sears was the Amazon of its time.

It’s also interesting to note that Sears started out as a side business – Richard Sears, a railroad station agent, started selling watches on the side. When he met Alvah Roebuck that’s when they decided to sell watches and jewelry through the catalog.

Do you see how it all started out by being a side business and then it grew into something more once he (Richard Sears) connected with the right person (Alvah Roebuck) to take the business to the next level?

Sears originally started out with 1 product – Watches.


It soon expanded into jewelry and before you know it Sears was selling tools, appliances and more! I was surprised when I read that they were one of the first in home internet (Prodigy) – Sears and home internet, who knew?

Another thing to note here with Sears and Toys R US, who recently filed for bankruptcy, is that they both had exclusivity at one point which seemed to protect the business – Sears had Craftsman Tool were Toys R US was really the only place to go and buy toys.

Each was known for one specific thing and that is what attracted people to the stores.


Which brings me to the question, do you think Sears and Toys R US just didn’t keep up with the times or do you think they were just trying to sell to everyone vs niching down?

I mean yes, we have Amazon making waves and continuing to grow across various markets but if we bring it back down to the small business level, is niching down and staying focused on your niche market (not trying to sell to everyone) the only way to win these days in business? Share with me your thoughts in the comments.


A timeline of the history of Sears

A continued timeline of the history of Sears

The history of Sears based off this digital timeline of Sears from CNN.



Sears was the Amazon of the 1930s. Here’s where the retailer is today from CNBC.

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