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Author Topic:   Buying a Watch in 1880.

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posted 12-03-2013 08:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garysss     send a private message to garysss   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote   Search for more posts by garysss
There is a surprise ending to this very interesting story!

If you were in the market for a watch in 1880, would you know where to get one? You would go to a store, right? Well, of course you could do that, but if you wanted one that was cheaper and a bit better than most of the store watches, you went to the train station! Sound a bit funny? Well, for about 500 towns across the northern United States, that's where the best watches were found.

Why were the best watches found at the train station? The railroad company wasn't selling the watches, not at all, the telegraph operator was. Most of the time the telegraph operator was located in the railroad station because the telegraph lines followed the railroad tracks from town to town. It was usually the shortest distance, and the right-of-ways had already been secured for the rail line.

Most of the station agents were also skilled telegraph operators and that was the primary way that they communicated with the railroad. They would know when trains left the previous station and when they were due at their next station. And it was the telegraph operator who had the watches. As a matter of fact they sold more of them than almost all the stores combined for a period of about 9 years.

This was all arranged by "Richard", who was a telegraph operator himself. He was on duty in the North Redwood, Minnesota, train station one day when a load of watches arrived from the East. It was a huge crate of pocket watches. No one ever came to claim them.

So Richard sent a telegram to the manufacturer and asked them what they wanted to do with the watches. The manufacturer didn't want to pay the freight back, so they wired Richard to see if he could sell them. So Richard did. He sent a wire to every agent in the system asking them if they wanted a cheap, but good, pocket watch. He sold the entire case in less than two days and at a handsome profit.

That started it all. He ordered more watches from the watch company and encouraged the telegraph operators to set up a display case in the station offering high quality watches for a cheap price to all the travelers. It worked! It didn't take long for the word to spread and, before long, people other than travelers came to the train station to buy watches.

Richard became so busy that he had to hire a professional watch maker to help him with the orders. That was Alvah. And the rest is history as they say.

The business took off and soon expanded to many other lines of dry goods. Richard and Alvah left the train station and moved their company to Chicago -- and it's still there.

YES, IT'S A LITTLE KNOWN FACT that for a while in the 1880's, the biggest watch retailer in the country was at the train station. It all started with a telegraph operator: Richard Sears and his partner Alvah Roebuck!


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posted 12-03-2013 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JeraneW     send a private message to JeraneW   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote   Search for more posts by JeraneW
Thanks for the education. I didn't know that and I collect old "railroad" pocket watches. And, by the way, I used many pages of their famous catalog in the "out house." LOL

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posted 12-03-2013 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bjprowler     send a private message to bjprowler   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote   Search for more posts by bjprowler
Sears also sold "kit homes" between 1908 - 1940 that were bought from a catalogue and shipped to the customer for assembly...Thousands of pieces were included from 2X4 studs to doorknobs...

Sad to see their decline....There was a time that Sears was #1 and everyone's favorite place to shop it seems...

This message has been edited by bjprowler on 12-03-2013 at 03:38 PM


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posted 12-03-2013 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alrtg     send a private message to alrtg   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote   Search for more posts by alrtg
I got my Sears credit card in 1980 and had it until they decided to charge an annual fee for the privilege of having it about seven or eight years ago.

I still buy some items from Sears but not as much as I did. The TV I am watching right now in my living room is one I bought from a Sears catalog store back in 1990.

tangled up in BLUE

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posted 12-03-2013 11:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tangled up in BLUE     send a private message to tangled up in BLUE   Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote   Search for more posts by tangled up in BLUE
...I have a pocket watch that belonged to my great grandfather, it has a train engraved on it...it's at least 100 years old

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