Twenty-two-year-old Richard Sears starts selling pocket watches out of Redwood Falls. Encouraged by his quick success, he opens a mail-order company in Minneapolis. He then moves to Chicago, takes on a partner, and in 1893 forms Sears, Roebuck & Company.
By the turn of the century, only the Bible has more readers than the Sears, Roebuck catalog. From its pages people order everyday items and oddities including clothing, harnesses, buggies, bicycles, guns, pianos, and parlor organs.
1897 – Sears, Roebuck sends 318,000 catalogs across the Midwest.
1908 – 3.6 million people receive Sears, Roebuck catalogs in a single mass mailing.*
G-d bless Richard Sears, and his embrace of the imagination You gave him. Thank You for fulfilling his vision to provide people with a new way to acquire needs, and wants irregardless of geography. Thank You that his catalog was a bridge builder between urban and rural, mountain and prairie, young and old, and many other stratifications of society!
Father You are generous with us. You allow us to express both needs and wants, and are infinitely able to provide for us. Your freedom allows our heart to be tested with what we have been given. Will we share our blessings? We will humble ourselves to make our needs known to others, or pridefully hide our lacking from the eyes of others?
Will You forgive the judgements cast on Richard Sears, his company, his employees, and his astounding success? He put possibilities in front of millions of eyes, and let them decide what was useful, or what was luxury. His business created heaps of jobs, and probably ended many smaller enterprises that could not, or would not, adapt to this new way of doing business. It is hard for us to admit when we have been outdone by another’s incredible effort. Have mercy! Will You forgive us this type of jealousy? Will You release us from the envy of another’s success in Minnesota? Will You give us hearts that rejoice at our brother or sister’s success?
In many ways, the mail order business predicated the modern world of advertising. Through it, we are tested daily to discern between our needs and wants, likes and dislikes. It is a good thing to have a choice! It is wonderful to have a plethora of options for nearly every item we desire. However, the knowledge of many things often leaves us with a craving for many things. We often feel a lack by the simple knowledge of what we do not yet possess. Again, this option tests our mettle! Is it bad to know what we do not have? Sometimes it inspires us to new efforts. Sometimes a new tool gives us an inspiration for working a new way.
Lord, forgive us for when we have chosen to focus on our discontent. Forgive the pining for something new that will bring us contentment! We too often love things, and use people! Will You break the roots of those cravings that came from the Sears catalog, and still bind us today? Will You help us in this struggle between enough and excess?
*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**More about this extraordinary pioneer of marketing? https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-W-Sears