Sears, Roebuck and Co., commonly known as Sears, is an American mid-range chain of international department stores, founded by Richard Warren Sears an.. read mored Alvah Roebuck in the late 19th century.
From its mail order beginnings, the company grew to become the largest retailer in the United States by the mid-20th century, and its catalogs became famous. Competition and changes in the demographics of its customer base challenged the company after World War II as its rural and inner city strongholds shrank and the suburban markets grew. Eventually its catalog program was largely discontinued.
Sears, a former component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, merged with Kmart in early 2005, creating the Sears Holdings Corporation.
The Sears, Roebuck catalog was sometimes referred to as "the Consumers' Bible". The Christmas Catalog was known as the "Wish Book", perhaps because of the toys in it. The catalog also entered the language, particularly of rural dwellers, as a euphemism for toilet paper. In the days of outhouses and no readily available toilet paper, the pages of the mass-mailed catalog were used as toilet paper.
After World War II, the company built many department stores in suburban shopping malls. The company was the largest retailer in the United States until the early 1980s but had dropped significantly in rankings by the time it merged with Kmart.