In 1886, Richard Warren Sears established the R.W. Sears Watch Company in a former railroad station, in North Redwood, Minnesota. In 1887, he moved operations to Chicago and hired Alvah Curtis Roebuck as a watch repairman. The first mail-order catalog was issued in 1887, with the Sears Roebuck & Company moniker being established in 1893.
Richard Warren Sears (1863-1914) was born in Stewartville, Minnesota. He eventually founded "The Cheapest Supply House on Earth."
Photo from Wikipedia / "Darwinek"
This railroad station structure housed the original R.W. Sears Watch Company.
Drawing from The Mid-Cities Daily News
Soon after the turn of the century, Sears followed Montgomery Ward's lead by establishing an unconditional money-back guarantee. Between 1908 and 1920, business increased six-fold, outstripping Montgomery Ward, by then Sears' primary competitor.
In February 1925, the first Retail Department Store opened. It had been installed in the company's gigantic Merchandise Building headquarters & distribution center, in Chicago. Sears' first freestanding retail store began business, in Evansville, Indiana, in October 1925. This operation is seen above.
Photo from "1925 History"