Where we come from guides where we’re going.
By the time Gary Comer reached his thirties‚ he was already an award-winning copywriter‚ champion sailor and world traveler. In 1963‚ he added entrepreneur to his list of accomplishments when he and four friends opened Lands’ End in a basement office on Chicago’s Elston Avenue.
Launched as a mail-order operation for yachting gear‚ the business filled about 15 orders on a good day. It took the team three years to see a real profit‚ and those returns had little to do with fashion. There were 84 pages to the Lands’ End Yachtsman’s Equipment Guide‚ Gary’s first catalog. Only two or three pages featured any clothes at all. And right there‚ on our very first cover‚ was a typo.
Lands' End Yacht Store in Chicago in 1963.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
From the beginning‚ Gary set out to make Lands' End different. While others took weeks to deliver a catalog order‚ Gary made sure orders shipped within two days. Keenly aware that returning catalog purchases could be frustrating‚ he instituted the company's now-famous return policy: "If you're not satisfied with any item‚ simply return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price." Guaranteed. Period.®
Gary also relied on his advertising roots, and the help of Creative Director Bernie Roer, to create a catalog unlike any other. Models looked like real people. Breezy copy told engaging stories. And quality products lured readers in until they could almost feel the softness of a knit shirt or the warmth of a wool sweater.
The company grew with every innovation. By 1977‚ Lands' End was a million-dollar business and it was time to move.