Indiana Fun Fact – The First Sears Retail Store was in Downtown Evansville
Welcome back to another edition of the ongoing series I have uncreatively called, "Indiana Fun Facts" (Who needs a clever name anyway, just say what it is. That's what I say to make myself feel better for not coming up with a better title). If you're new to the series, the concept is pretty simple. Anytime I discover something that I find interesting about the place I call home, I share it with you. My thought being, if I find it interesting, you might too. Previous editions include finding out tomato juice as a drink was created in French Lick, the first permanent electric streetlights being installed in Wabash, and the story of trees growing out of the roof of a courthouse in Greensburg for over 140 years.
This time, we stay right here in Evansville, specifically downtown where a building still standing today was once the only one of its kind anywhere in the United States.
On the corner of Northwest 4th and Sycamore Streets is a building you've likely passed hundreds, if not thousands of times, and never put an ounce of thought about what it is, or what's inside. It's been home to a variety of businesses over the years, and other than a few touch-ups here and there, for the most part, it still looks the way it did over 100 years ago.
But, back in 1925, it had the distinction of being the first Sears retail store anywhere in the country.
The Sears & Robuck Company did have stores in its hometown of Chicago, as well as Dallas, Seattle, and Kansas City. The difference between those stores and this one was that they were attached to the company's distribution centers in those areas. You see, Sears sold their products through catalogs at that time. Depending on where you lived, your order was filled at one of those warehouses and shipped to you. The same way Amazon does it now. The Evansville store was the first not to be attached to a distribution center, according to the Sears Archives.
The store closed its doors in 1975, 12 years after opening its second location at Washington Square Mall. And while the store may be long gone, the building will always hold a special place in the history of retail.
Today, the building is home to administrative offices for Old National Bank, and will soon be getting a new mural on its backside courtesy of artists from Louisville, according to the Downtown Evansville Facebook page.
More Fun Facts
If you enjoyed this edition, check out the previous entries of "Indiana Fun Facts:"
- Indiana Fun Fact - Tomato Juice was Invented in French Lick
- Did You Know the First Electric Streetlight in America was Installed in Indiana?
- Indiana Fun Fact - A Tree Has Been Growing on This Courthouse Roof for 140+ Years
See How Downtown Evansville Has Changed Over the Years