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Sears History 1958 to 1962

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Decorator Studio1958 was a break-out year. For the first time, sales exceeded the $200,000,000 mark. Profits, while still lagging, reached $6,026,520, almost double the 1957 figure. On May 1st the Company opened its first Calgary Store. It was a big, bright 'A' store at North Hill Shopping Centre.

By the end of the year the Company could boast of a string of 36 retail outlets. Most of them were small 'D' stores dotted in smaller cities and towns across the country. For the most part, they were former Mail Order/Catalogue Selling Units that had been upgraded and expanded to include floor sales of big-ticket items such as appliances and furniture. Automotive products and hardware also helped provide a good mix of merchandise to meet the needs of smaller communities. The 'D' stores formed the backbone of the retail operation and were generating the bulk of its profits.

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Catalogue OrdersOn May 6th, 1959 Winnipeg's Polo Park Store threw open its doors and gave the Company a total of 37 stores as it closed out the decade.

A drive for new credit business brought the total number of accounts to 550,000, an impressive increase of 190,000 over the year before. As usual, the Company was quick to embrace new technologies and became a pioneering user of the Telex service, a teletype system for exchanging instant printed messages. Naturally, the first link was between Toronto and Chicago, which was a major news event that was announced in a press release from CN-CP Communications.

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Maxine PresentsThe only large store opened was in Edmonton and, although it was classified as a 'B' store, it would prove to be a significant indicator of things to come. The new Edmonton Store opened on August 18th in the Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre in the southeastern suburbs. It had 45 full time employees and 11 divisional heads. The new employees learned about some of the great benefits of working for Simpsons-Sears. Four new 'D' stores opened their doors Charlottetown, Medicine Hat, Nelson, British Columbia and Galt, Ontario.

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Ottawa Clarington StoreIn 1961 total sales broke through the quarter billion dollar mark for the very first time. Net earnings exceeded six and a half million dollars. For shareholders it added up to goods news. The Company was able to pay its first dividend, a modest, but still welcome 50 cents a share. A 'B' store opened in Dundas, Ontario in May. On October 12th, a new 'D' store opened in Brandon, Manitoba. This store was more notable in one key respect as it would prove to be the last 'D' ever built. The end of a legendary era in Canadian retailing was in sight. In 1961, Canadians it seemed, loved to shop by catalogue. That year, a record 25,000,000 catalogues from dozens of companies landed on doorsteps from coast to coast. That worked out to about one and a half catalogues for every man, woman and child in the country. An estimated three out of five families would place orders. Catalogue Sales Offices now numbered over 300 and stretched from coast to coast and as far north as Dawson Creek, B.C. Even though it was still known as the Mail Order Business, by 1961 three out of four customers were either ordering in person at Catalogue Sales Offices or were phoning in their orders.

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Home DeliverySimpsons-Sears was changing gears and new team was moving into the boardroom. Edgar Burton retired as Chairman of the Board and moved over to become Chairman of the Finance Committee. Gordon Graham stepped up to become the new Chairman of the Board. Two new faces appeared at the table. James Button arrived from Sears, Roebuck, where he had held the post of Assistant Vice-President and General Manager of the New York office. The-soon-to-be legendary Jack Barrow, a longtime Simpson's and Simpsons-Sears employee, was appointed Executive Vice President.

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