The Once Giant Retail Tower Has Fallen

If there is one store that has been the symbol of the traditional American shopping experience going back more than 100 years, it is Sears.

In fact it was 131 years ago that a guy named Richard Sears moved his R.W. Sears Watch Co. to Chicago and hired business partner Alvah Roebuck.

In 1895, the name of that watch company had changed to Sears, Roebuck & Co. and its mail-order catalog in American homes helped catapult Sears to a store from which almost everyone bought something.

By 1973 when Sears was still growing so was their headquarters as they opened the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago, a 110 story tower that symbolized its soaring success over decades.

Having grown up in Chicago, it was the store that was as much a part of the Windy City as it was America itself.

And having been given a chance to play a very tiny role in the construction of the Sears Tower, as a guy in college helping his father in law, a Sears Tower sub-contractor, inspect office ceiling lights as a summer job, I was a brief witness to the stature of Sears as that building rose above the busy streets of downtown Chicago.

And now, 45 years later, Sears has filed bankruptcy.  As much as we know how things have changed since then in the way Americans shop, as Amazon has replaced Sears and other once big and famous department stores in America, it still feels like a sad day. 

Sears Tower Chicago  Getty Images


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