The neighborhood Sears store may be fading from view in America, with hundreds of stores closing with regularity during the venerable retailer's recent battle with bankruptcy. But there was a time when the original Sears, Roebuck & Co. was a major player in the home-building industry. From 1908 to 1940, Sears sold more than 70,000 kit houses in North America through its mail-order catalog operation. Sears sent the future homeowners everything they needed to build a sturdy, stylish home from the ground up. More than 440 different home designs were available, and the materials were delivered pre-cut and ready to assemble. Hundreds of these homes still exist, particularly in the Midwest, often with the current occupants not realizing that they live in a "Sears Modern Home."
Welcome to our Sears Catalog Home:
- The Sears houses would be shipped by rail and then delivered by truck to the home site. A typical Sears Modern Home kit contained about 25 tons of materials, with more than 30,000 pieces.
- Published in 1908, Sears’ first catalog featured 44 home styles, ranging in price from $360 to $2,890 USD. Plumbing, electrical fixtures, and heating systems were not included in the base price.
- Sears offered financing beginning in 1912, with mortgage rates in the 6 to 7 percent range, for five to 15 years. Sales peaked in 1929, just before the Great Depression.