Recently, Sears has been on a roller coaster ride. They just made an announcement that another few dozen stores will be shut down after dwindling worldwide sales. The companies that once defined America are slowing down and it is a depressing fact. General Electric, Ford, GMC, and Sears are fighting against the 21st century economic goliaths–Amazon, Google, and Apple–especially as many of these companies are venturing into self-driving automobiles and other innovative technologies. While Sears may go away as we know it, the legacy won’t die. Throughout the 1900s, Sears was an instrumental retailer and helped build the America we now know and love. In many ways, they have been innovators, including their mail order business. They sold a lot of things through their catalogs, including appliances, home goods, and even houses. And while things might not be built by today’s businesses to last, Sears did a great job in the early 1900s producing quality items.
Reddit user RealHotSauceBoss said that he is busying renovating his grandfather’s home, which the man bought from a Sears catalog back in 1916.
At the time, for just over a thousand bucks, Sears built the house this man bought. It’s not a bad price considering how much needs to be done to build a house. They had several models available to buy and they shipped them all over the country. All you needed was a land plot to plop down the house, and you’d have a place to live. The house was shipped in pieces with blueprints to the customer. Then, building it piece by piece was the job of the buyer. Talk about an innovative solution. This idea sounds as if it would be popular today. With the proliferation of small houses throughout the country, people are going back to simpler living. And many DIYers would love to build their dream home with blueprints and pieces. Atlas Obscura points out through its Sears Archives that between 1908 and 1940 the company sold about 75,000 mail order homes. The house built by the Reddit post grandfather was called Model No. 137. The house cost about $1200 in 1916, which, considering inflation, translates into about $27,000 in 2016.
“It has held up remarkably well, all things considered,” the Reddit user wrote. “Obviously, the wood wasn’t treated back then, so the exterior was in rough shape, but the house was structurally sound. To preserve the interior we essentially had to build a shell of HardiePlank over the old exterior, then we put storm windows over the original windows. The original roof was unrecoverable due to wear and leakage, so it was completely replaced. The basement is in unbelievably good shape considering that cement is a century old! It continues to be a really interesting project.”
In the year 2118, what do you think the people yet to come will look at from our time and marvel at? Will it be our phones, our computers? Or will be something so fundamental to our lives that we hardly notice it?