5 Famous Richard Sears Business Quotes & Impact of the Sears Catalogue

Richard Sears Catalogue Quotes Business Catalog Mike Schiemer Retail Entrepreneur


Richard W. Sears founded the Sears Catalogue, Along with Alvah C. Roebuck, and eventually the current retail giant that Sears is today. As one of the most successful retail innovators of all time, there is plenty to learn from his career. Here are five of my favorite quotes from Sears:

1) "Many a hundred-dollar man remains a fifteen-dollar subordinate because he is not given any latitude and is not allowed to develop."

2) "No man can learn to be a 'crack shot' unless he wastes some ammunition. The employer should stand the expense of the experiments made by a new man who shows ability; it will pay in the long run."

3) "The surest way to gain unswerving loyalty of employees is to show them from the start that they will be allowed to make the most of themselves. A man wants to stay with the firm with which he can reach his greatest efficiency."

4) "Too many instructions to employees is often fatal. Don't be too specific; such an attitude makes a man into a machine."

5) "If you buy a good watch you will always be satisfied, and at our prices a good watch will influence the sale of another good watch; and that's our motto: "Make a Watch, Sell a Watch."


Richard Sears Catalogue Catalog Mike Schiemer Retail Entrepreneur


Richard Sears Catalogue Catalog Mike Schiemer Retail Entrepreneur

Super #TBT: Originally written by Mike Schiemer in 2005

The Impact of the Sears Catalogue

            In the late 1900’s the American countryside was in a different world from the rest of the more urbanized country. The farm was a slower place that was proud of its hard work, independence, deep family tradition, obedient children, and self-denial. They truly did live a simple life. That was until one man, Richard Warren Sears, would forever change the farmland and the rest of the country with his catalogue that took the nation by storm
            Richard Warren Sears started out selling gold watches with low prices and plenty of charisma and never looked back. He took his profits and decided to get into the catalogue business. With partner Roebuck, his catalogue company took off like a rocket with its combination of catchy sales pitches, low prices, and appeal to farmers and southerners that wanted some ease and luxury in their lives. His innovative marketing helped the catalogue enter nearly every home in the American countryside and sold 100,000 items in its heyday, all to make farmer’s lives easier, more fun, more colorful, and elegant. It was both a dream book for these farmers as well as a connection to the urban part of the nation. It promised relief from the burden of never-ending labor and a plain life. Sears’ economic colossus became the largest retail business. The catalogue was successfully replaced by retail stores in 1925.





Richard Sears Catalogue Catalog Mike Schiemer Retail Entrepreneur

            The impact of Sears and his catalogue on his time period was enormous. First of all, his catalogues helped to change the American farmer’s way of life. No longer did the farmers have to make everything for themselves, they could now finally by cheap mass-produced goods. Previously, the only goods they were able to buy were from the local general stores but the goods there were limited and very overpriced from too many middlemen. Now farmers had much greater options at lower prices. Machines that helped with farming and cooking could also be purchased increasing the efficiency of the work done and allowing for increased free time. The sewing machine that Sears sold for 1/5 of the average market cost could do a dozen women’s sewing. With this extra free time and money farmers were able to spend their money on a variety of pleasantries and luxuries to spice up their lives. The railroad industry reaped the benefits of Sears’ massive shipments into the countryside. Even with all of this improvement in farming life, people were leaving the farms for the city like never before. Because of all the improvements, children weren’t needed as much and because of the catalogue’s influence, more people than ever wanted to go to the cities and be like their urban counterparts. Thanks to Sears’ massive sales of helpful devices, less farmers were needed to produce even more food so the cities of the United States grew larger. The romanticism, intimacy, and tradition of the farming lifestyle forever faded as Sears’ catalogue helped speed up the American lifestyle.
            Sears’ catalogue created a much higher national demand for more luxurious and technological items helped create the “Roaring 20’s” era of wild spending and large dependency on credit. All of these items that Sears’ catalogue helped make popular could not be paid for right away and had to be purchased on credit. All of these purchases on credit were a major cause of the market crash and the subsequent Great Depression. All of the cars that Sears sold helped the automobile industry boom and everything that went along with it including building roads, more traveling, the rise of Henry Ford’s famous Model T, and the gradual replacement of the railroad by the automobile. The state of the art factories that Sears owned helped to inspire other innovative manufacturing facilities of mass production such as Henry Ford’s car manufacturing plants. Sears’ facilities once again proved to the world that the use of machines and the assembly line process can get anything done quicker and more efficiently. These historically successful manufacturing techniques would later be applied to weapons production in World War I and World War II. The immense and complicated manufacturing facilities became the “arsenals for democracy” that helped produce planes, tanks, guns, equipment, and boats to help turn the tide against the Germans.
            Today we still see the powerful impact of Sears’s catalogue and his marketing on our culture. The marketing techniques used by Sears remain pretty much unchanged even by the most advanced marketing geniuses. Our culture still embraces the concepts of low prices, “magic pills”, eye-catching ads, “free” items, and other “miracle” products. These ads can still be seen while buying cars, signing up for credit cards, sexual enhancement drugs, and much more. Plenty of “huckster” marketing is still used today to take advantage of gullible and uneducated consumers.  Sears’ catalogue could be considered an inspiration for the internet companies that are around and thriving today. Following the Sears catalogue’s theme of making cheap products available to anyone in the country, today’s internet companies are making cheap products available to anyone in the world and therefore have appeal. All the phonographs that Sears sold to the masses helped to spark the American and world obsession with recorded music that is still around today except now it’s digital music making the transition from compact discs. Since the days of Sears’ catalogue, we have become a nation obsessed with technological advances and luxuries to make our lives more comfortable. The farming community is completely different today than it was back in the day before Sears’ time. Now it is a fast paced, highly scientific, and technological production system that is capable of feeding the entire nation or even the world. All of this is now possible with even less farmers than ever partly because of Sears catalyzing this new trend with his massive sales of technology and cheap goods. The slow pace and efficiency of farm life is nearly nonexistent in today’s farms partly because of the Sears catalogue. Sears retail stores and its catalogues are still around today selling moderately priced goods but have stiff competition from various higher end or discount stores.
            The impact of Sears and his catalogue forever changed the face of the American nation. It sped up our lives and improved our manufacturing facilities and methods. In conclusion, it helped purged the nation of inefficient agricultural production and ushered in a new era of spending on luxury and technological products. 


Richard Sears Catalogue Catalog Mike Schiemer Retail Entrepreneur Quotes Quote

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As Always, Best Of Luck In Business To You All!

Michael James Schiemer Retail
Published By Michael J. Schiemer
Owner & Marketing Consultant
Schiemer Consulting Builds Better Business
Digital Marketing & Social Media Solutions
Greater Boston MA & Providence RI
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