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Forum topic by Jim Jakosh posted 11-15-2013 03:59 PM 917 views 2 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jim Jakosh

14421 posts in 2197 days

11-15-2013 03:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: history

This is true. I looked it up.

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!
> Bet You Didn’t Know That!!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

16 replies so far

View patcollins's profile


1343 posts in 1956 days

#1 posted 11-15-2013 04:08 PM

Wow great story. I really like shows like Pawn Stars and American Pickers for the stories like these.

View grizzman's profile


7633 posts in 2394 days

#2 posted 11-15-2013 04:15 PM

very cool story, thanks jim

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View luv2learn's profile


2185 posts in 1394 days

#3 posted 11-15-2013 04:43 PM

That is a great piece of history. Thanks for sharing it with us Jim.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View rance's profile


4197 posts in 2252 days

#4 posted 11-15-2013 05:53 PM

Cool. Kinda sounds like the story of “Nate the Snake”.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View stefang's profile (online now)


14969 posts in 2425 days

#5 posted 11-15-2013 06:26 PM

Definitely a great story Jim. I guess the moral of the story is to keep you eyes open for opportunities and strike while the iron is hot! I think Rance is on to something there. Sears took over a lot of small businesses by ordering large quantities of goods from manufactures that forced them to expand their facilities to meet Sear’s orders and then Sears demanded lower prices (read unprofitable) for subsequent orders which effectively left the supplier bankrupt and forced to sell out to Sears and probably continue managing the company for them afterward. Dog eat dog I guess.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View CFrye's profile (online now)


6569 posts in 931 days

#6 posted 11-15-2013 06:31 PM

Thanks for the history lesson Jim!

-- God bless, Candy

View Doe's profile


1180 posts in 1921 days

#7 posted 11-15-2013 11:04 PM

Thanks Jim, that was really interesting.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

8551 posts in 3143 days

#8 posted 11-15-2013 11:47 PM

I didn’t know that…

Now, I do.

Thank you!

Richard Sears could have been a Ham… if it was possible…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Cliff 's profile


582 posts in 815 days

#9 posted 11-16-2013 12:41 AM

Thanks Jim. Very interesting piece of American Railroad History. I think it would be a worthwhile project for the local Historical society in that town to have a display showing and old style telegraph office and as much information and items of interest, so people can appreciate how things happened in those days, and of course the two famous names. Sears & Roebuck. I believe there is a building in the USA called the Sears Roebuck Bldg. Is it in Chicago?

Great story, I enjoyed reading about it.


-- Cliff Australia : Snoring is good. It blows away all the Sawdust.

View Roger's profile


17851 posts in 1895 days

#10 posted 11-16-2013 01:44 AM

Thnx for sharing that Jim.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

18624 posts in 1429 days

#11 posted 11-16-2013 01:53 AM

Great story. I love history.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View PaulDoug's profile


842 posts in 795 days

#12 posted 11-16-2013 02:13 AM

Well I couldn’t find a disclaimer on “Snopes” so it has to be a true story. Did you ever wonder who Snopes, Snopes?

Anyway, great tidbit of history. Thanks for sharing it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


16740 posts in 2767 days

#13 posted 11-16-2013 02:36 AM

That sounds like a Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story” ;-) Thanks, good story.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Rick's profile


8287 posts in 2124 days

#14 posted 11-16-2013 04:53 AM

Just Wonderful!!

-- Hope Everyone Is Doing Well! .... Best Regards: Rick

View oldnovice's profile


4664 posts in 2459 days

#15 posted 11-16-2013 05:49 AM

Great story!

Did you you that at one time Sears and Roebuck sold prefab homes and Allstate automobiles?
One block south of my house in Freeport, Illinois were several catalog order Sear and Roebuck prefab homes.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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