Sears Iconic Private Brand Originals

Earlier this month the long-rotting retail goliath Sears finally declared bankruptcy. The long-anticipated move seemed like a good time to take a look at the iconic private brands that I featured in my latest best-selling book Vanguard: Vintage Originals. The follow-up book to my first book Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project, presents a look at the innovation, vintage design, and brands that shaped the last 100 years of private brand.

With images from acclaimed photographer Teri Campbell, the book brings to life the collection of 100+ original vintage private label packages from more than 30 retailers. It should be no surprise that numerous examples of private brands from Sears are included. Take a look and learn from their amazing success, innovation, and longevity.

Unfortunately, in the end, great private brands were not enough to save a retailer who could never make the transition out of the 1980’s

ORDER YOUR COPY OF VANGUARD: VINTAGE ORIGINALS TODAY.

Craftsman Tools

In 1927, Sears acquired the Craftsman trademark for $500. Two years later, Craftsman power tools debuted in the fall catalog. They were described as “powerful, of rugged construction and well balanced and easily handled.”

The first Craftsman wrench, made of vanadium steel, was introduced in 1932. It was 50% thinner and 200% stronger than previous models.

Kenmore

The Kenmore brand name debuted on sewing machines in the 1913 fall catalog on a four-drawer drop-head sewing machine, but the name was dropped in the fall of 1919. It was reintroduced again in 1934 and went on to be the number one appliance brand in the United States.

The origin of the Kenmore brand name is vague at best. One suggestion is that Kenmore came from Kenmore Avenue, a prominent street in Chicago.

Allstate

Sears created the Allstate brand in 1925 as part of a national contest to name Sears’ new private brand of automobile tires. By the end of the 1960s, Sears focused the Allstate brand on automobile insurance, tires, and batteries. In 1995, Sears divested its remaining Allstate shares to Sears’ stockholders and Allstate became an independent company.

Silvertone

Silvertone was Sears, Roebuck & Company’s “musical” private brand. The first Silvertone product was a hand-cranked phonograph introduced in 1915. The first solid body electric guitar appeared in 1954 and was followed by many more guitars. Famous Silvertone musicians have included Ace Frehley, Muddy Waters, Chet Atkins, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

ORDER YOUR COPY OF VANGUARD: VINTAGE ORIGINALS TODAY.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.