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
> 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
> 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!!