scorecardThe rise and fall of Sears, once the largest and most powerful retailer in the world
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The rise and fall of Sears, once the largest and most powerful retailer in the world

Erin McDowell,Erin McDowell   

The rise and fall of Sears, once the largest and most powerful retailer in the world
Retail1 min read
FILE PHOTO: Workers remove a sign from the outside of a Sears department store one day after it closed as part of multiple store closures by Sears Holdings Corp in the United States in Nanuet, New York, U.S., January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Few chains have fallen from grace quite like Sears.

Ten years ago, the department-store chain operated 3,500 stores. By February, Sears' and Kmart's combined stores are expected to fall to just 182 locations.

Things didn't always look so bleak for the retailer. Officially founded in 1893, Sears was once the world's largest retailer, reporting billions of dollars in profits. With a headquarters located in the Sears Tower, once the tallest building in the world, Sears' influence was known worldwide.

However, changes in consumer behavior and the retail landscape has resulted in the demise of one of the United States' most storied department-store chains.

Here is a timeline of the rise and fall of Sears, starting at its humble beginnings in the 1800s.




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