1872: Aaron Montgomery Ward founds the first dry goods mail-order catalog business.
1875: Coins "Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back."
1900: Records $8.7-million in sales, but falls behind Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s $10-million.
1926: First freestanding retail store opens in Plymouth, Ind.
1939: Employee Robert L. May develops character and illustrated poem Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for executives.
1985: Unveils specialty store strategy, ends catalogs.
1988: Management undertakes successful $3.8-billion leveraged buyout, making company privately held.
1991: Resumes mail-order catalog business.
1997: Files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
1999: GE Capital Credit buys company, brings it out of bankruptcy and changes its focus.
2000: Announces plan to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, shutter 250 stores in 30 states.
_ Associated Press