The first Sears retail store opened in Chicago on February 2, 1925 in the Merchandise building (in a portion of the company's headquarters at Homan Avenue and Arthington Street). This store included an optical shop and a soda fountain. The first freestanding retail store opened October 5, 1925 in Evansville, Indiana. During the summer of 1928 three more Chicago department stores opened, one on the north side at Lawrence and Winchester, a second on the south side at 79th and Kenwood, and the third at 62nd and Western. In 1929 Sears took over the department store business of Becker-Ryan Company. In 1933 Sears tore down the old Becker-Ryan Company store in Englewood, and built the first windowless department store, inspired by the 1932 Chicago World's Fair.
From the 1920’s to the 1950’s, Sears built many urban department stores. Starting in the 1950’s, the company expanded into suburban markets, and malls in the 1960’s and 1970’s. In 1959, it had formed the Homart Development Company for developing malls. Many of the company's stores have undergone major renovations or replacement since the 1980’s. The company was the largest retailer in the US until the early 1980’s, but had dropped significantly in rankings by the time it merged with Kmart.