In 1886, Richard Sears started selling watches to supplement his income as station agent at North Redwood, Minn. This was the start of the Sears (SHLD) retail empire that would span more than 100 years.

The company got its start in Chicago with a store and catalog that would change American retail forever and bring goods to people living in rural America. Through the 20th century, Sears would establish profit-sharing for employees and launch many successful private-label brands, such as Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools.

Sears would acquire financial and real estate brokerage houses, then start a national credit card, Discover (DFS - Get Report) . 

But Sears finds itself struggling due to changing consumer habits and steep competition from newer off-price retailers.

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 This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.