S. S. Kresge

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S. S. Kresge
Sebastian Spering Kresge.jpg
Born Sebastian Spering Kresge
(1867-07-31)July 31, 1867
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Died October 18, 1966(1966-10-18) (aged 99)
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Known for S. S. Kresge Company
Religion Methodist[1]
Parent(s) Sebastian Kresge
Catherine Kunkle

Sebastian Spering Kresge (July 31, 1867 – October 18, 1966), was the founder of the S. S. Kresge Company, one of the 20th century's largest retail organizations. The company was renamed the Kmart Corporation in 1977, and evolved into today's Sears Holdings Corporation, parent of Kmart and Sears.


Kresge was born in Bald Mountain (near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), the son of Sebastian Kresge and Catherine Kunkle.

Living on the family farm until he was 21 years old, he was educated in the local public schools, at the Fairview Academy, in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, and at the Eastman Business College, from which he graduated in March, 1889.

Following his graduation, he clerked in a hardware store for two years, then worked as a traveling salesman from 1892 to 1897.

On March 20, 1897, Kresge started with James G. McCrory (founder of J.G. McCrory's) at a five and ten cent store in Memphis, Tennessee. He continued in this for two years, then in 1899 founded his company with Charles J. Wilson with an $8,000 investment in two five-and-ten-cent stores, one in downtown Detroit, Michigan (for which he traded ownership in McCrory's).

In 1912, he incorporated the S.S. Kresge Corporation with 85 stores. The company was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange on May 23, 1918. During World War I, Kresge experimented with raising the limit on prices in his stores to $1.

By 1924, Kresge was worth approximately $375,000,000 (in 1924 dollars; around $5,000,000,000 in 2009 dollars[2]) and owned real estate of the approximate value of $100,000,000 (see Farid-Es-Sultaneh v. Commissioner, 160 F.2d 812 (2d Cir. 1947)). He was married and divorced at least twice by 1928. (see Farid-Es-Sultaneh, ibid).

Kresge died on October 18, 1966, aged 99.[3]


The first Kmart opened in 1962 in Garden City, Michigan. Kresge died in 1966. In 1977, the S. S. Kresge Corporation changed its name to the Kmart Corporation. In 2005 Sears Holdings Corporation became the parent of Kmart and Sears, after Kmart bought Sears, and formed the new parent.

In 1924 Kresge established The Kresge Foundation, a non-profit organization whose income he specified simply "to promote the well-being of mankind." By the time of his death, Kresge had given the foundation over $60 million.[4] A strongly-committed prohibitionist, he organized the National Vigilance Committee for Prohibition enforcement and also heavily supported the Anti-Saloon League financially, though he later stopped contributions.[5]


Numerous places have been named after Kresge:


  1. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/755/000160275/
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "S. S. Kresge Dead. Merchant was 99. His 5-and-10 Store in 1899 Grew Into 930-Unit Chain". New York Times. October 19, 1966. Retrieved 2010-12-14. Sebastian Spering Kresge, founder of the S.S. Kresge Company's network of 930 general merchandise stores throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, died today. ... 
  4. ^ The Philanthropy Hall of Fame, S.S. Kresge
  5. ^ The Unraveling of National Prohibition



  • "Kresge, Sebastian S.", The Book of Detroiters, Marquis, Albert Nelson, ed., 1914, p. 291

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