In the modern USA, Sears department store (formerly Sears & Roebuck) is in a sad state. Though they have tried to re-emerge in the internet age as a fast fashion, low cost, family retailer, their sales have been suffering and their market-share is all but obsolete.
But, once upon a time, Sears was the go-to for families all over America. Before the birth of major mall retailers, small town folks across the US relied on the Sears catalogue to get them up to date on the latest fashions, home goods, and technologies. Sears was also a delivery home builder - for a few hundred dollars you could order a Sears "kit home" and the American dream was yours. Amazing!
Thanks to this service, there are beautiful kit homes all across the US. The heart of the kit home movement is the super simple, but perfectly designed American Four Square. For more on these gorgeous homes and their incredible history, refer to the works of Rosemary Thornton, namely The Houses that Sears Built (available on Amazon) - an awesome guide to the movement of kit homes and pages of gorgeous examples.
Between 1908-1940, Sears customers ordered about 75,000 houses out of the Sears Roebuck and Company mail-order catalogs. The houses were shipped by rail to city lots and farms all over the country.Each "kit home" contained 30,000 pieces, including 750 pounds of nails and 27 gallons of paint and varnish. A 75-page instruction book showed home buyers, step by step, how to assemble those 30,000 pieces of house. - Rosemary Thornton