The present state of the retail industry could be described as calamitous. Colossal, coast-to-coast merchandising chains, once thought virtually impregnable, now teeter on the brink of disaster. Each round of store closings brings the fear that the next announcement may signal the bitter end of a company, or companies, that have provided the needs of Americans for well over a century.

Given the current state of affairs, we thought it fitting to commemorate America's BIG THREE mega merchandisers. The forthcoming section will provide brief histories of the BIG THREE, as their complete stories are already documented on the internet. For those interested, links to four pertinent web destinations may be found at the end of this section.

For our particular spin, we'll cover some aspects that have not have been explored in depth in other write-ups. For instance, here you will find details about Wards', Sears' and Penney's so-called "private label" brands of appliances and electronics. Moreover, we delve into the BIG THREE retailer's mid-20th century move into shopping mall-based stores, a subject never covered, in any great degree, until now.