How we got here: In 1967, Sol Shenk founded Consolidated International, Inc. - the company that is now Big Lots. He's considered one of the true visionaries in the discount retail marketplace.
The Art Of The Deal: Sol Shenk founded the company in 1967 that is now Big Lots. Shenk loved making crazy closeout deals, particularly on auto parts and all kinds of vehicles. In 1970 the company began operating as Consolidated International. Consolidated launched the Odd Lots/Big Lots closeout chain in 1982. Over the years the chain grew to include stores doing business as Big Lots, Odd Lots, Mac Frugal’s Bargains * Closeouts, and Pic ‘N’ Save.
One Name Says It All: In 2001 our array of store names and company identity were converted to a single national brand: Big Lots. For our customers, a common national brand represents consistency and buying power. And for our 35,000 associates, the Big Lots name reinforces a shared company culture from coast to coast.
Big Lots Today: From our closeout store roots to our entrance into discount retailing, our core purpose of helping people save money on all kinds of products has stayed the same. But the needs of our customers have expanded dramatically. Today we offer an extensive assortment of brand-name items and quality products, including food, furniture, seasonal items, electronics and accessories, home décor, toys, and gifts. Our customers may be on a tight budget, or they may just enjoy our treasure-hunt atmosphere. Either way, they love our mission of: Surprises in every aisle, every day.
In The Beginning - 1886: Picture America in the late 1880s. The states were only 38 in number. Their total population was 58 million and about 65 percent of these people lived in rural areas. Only a dozen or so cities had 200,000 or more residents. And the yearly national income was about $10 billion. This was the scene when, one day in 1886, a Chicago jewelry company shipped some gold-filled watches to an unsuspecting jeweler in a Minnesota hamlet. Thus started a chain of events that led to the founding of Sears.
Richard Sears was an agent of the Minneapolis and St. Louis railway station in North Redwood, Minnesota. Sears job as station agent left him plenty of spare time, so he sold lumber and coal to local residents on the side to make extra money. Later, when he received a shipment of watches - unwanted by a neighboring Redwood Falls jeweler - he was ready. Sears purchased them himself, sold the watches at a nice profit to other station agents up and down the line, and then ordered more for resale.
In 1886 Sears began the R.W. Sears Watch Company in Minneapolis.
Sears Today: At the close of its 2000 fiscal year, Sears operated 863 mall-based retail stores, most with co-located Sears Auto Centers, and an additional 1,200 retail locations including hardware, outlet, tire and battery stores as well as independently owned stores, primarily in smaller and rural markets.
The company's services operations include product installation and repair services; service contracts; selected installed home improvements; and direct response. Direct response includes direct response marketing, clubs and services memberships; and merchandise through specialty catalogs.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. also is the majority owner of Sears Canada Inc., one of Canada's largest retailers. Sears Canada operates 125 full-line stores, 176 specialty stores, and 1,550 independently owned catalog agents and hometown stores.
In 1951, a businessman named Robert O. Peterson opened the first Jack in the Box® restaurant in San Diego on the main east-west thoroughfare leading into city. Equipped with an intercom system and drive-thru window, the tiny restaurant served up hamburgers to passing motorists for just 18 cents, while a large jack-in-the-box clown kept watch from the roof.
Along with his Jack in the Box restaurants, Mr. Peterson operated other restaurant concepts as well as a food-manufacturing facility as divisions of a parent company called San Diego Commissary Co. In 1960, San Diego Commissary changed its name to Foodmaker Co., and Jack in the Box expanded outside of California with the opening of its first restaurants in Phoenix, Ariz. Three years later, Jack in the Box expanded into Texas, where it opened restaurants in the Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth areas.
In 1968, Ralston Purina Co. acquired controlling interest in Foodmaker and operated the company as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Under Ralston Purina, Jack in the Box restaurants underwent a major expansion in an effort to penetrate the eastern and midwestern markets, and the business grew to more than 1,000 restaurants by 1979. That same year, Foodmaker decided to concentrate its efforts and resources in the western and southwestern markets, which it believed offered the greatest growth and profit potential. Accordingly, the company sold or closed more than 200 Jack in the Box restaurants in the eastern and midwestern markets.
An investment group, including members of Foodmaker management, completed a leveraged buyout of the company from Ralston Purina in 1985. Foodmaker went public two years later before an investment group, again including members of Foodmaker management, converted the company to a privately owned corporation in 1988. In 1992, Foodmaker again went public, with an offering of 17.2 million shares priced at $15 per share.
In 1995, Foodmaker launched an advertising campaign that featured Jack as the company’s fictional founder, CEO and ad pitchman. Longtime customers will remember Jack as a clown who formerly served atop the company's family-friendly drive-thru speaker box. But in 1980, he was blown up in a television commercial that signaled a shift toward more adult fare. With his oversized, ping-pong ball-shaped head, biting wit and unfailing dedication to offering the finest fast-food experience to his guests, Jack and his commercials were an instant hit. Soon, his likeness appeared on premiums ranging from antenna toppers to Pez dispensers. In addition to producing more than 32 million “Jack” antenna balls, more than 5 million premiums bearing Jack’s likeness have been sold since 1995.
Over the years, Foodmaker divested itself of all restaurant concepts except Jack in the Box and closed its food-manufacturing facilities. Acknowledging the strength and growth of the Jack in the Box brand, the company changed its name to Jack in the Box Inc. in 1999.
Jack in the Box Inc. entered the fast-casual restaurant category in 2003 with the acquisition of Qdoba Restaurant Corporation, operator and franchiser of Qdoba Mexican Eats . With more than 700 restaurants in 47 states, as well as in the District of Columbia and Canada, Qdoba is a leader in fast-casual dining. Each Qdoba restaurant showcases food that celebrates Qdoba’s passion for ingredients, a menu full of innovative flavors, handcrafted preparation and inviting service.