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The Lowe's story began in North Carolina more than 60 years ago when H. Carl Buchan, part owner of the North Wilkesboro Hardware Company, envisioned creating a chain of hardware stores. At the time, Lowe's was a typical, small town hardware store selling everything from overalls and snuff to wash tubs and work boots. Lowe's even sold horse collars at its first store in downtown North Wilkesboro. Carl Buchan later bought-out his brother-in-law and partner, James Lowe, and foreseeing the post-World War II building boom, concentrated on selling only hardware, appliances and hard-to-find building materials. By eliminating wholesalers and dealing directly with manufacturers, Lowe's established a lasting reputation for low prices.
Sales grew over time and additional Lowe's stores opened in neighboring towns throughout western North Carolina.
The company went public in 1961, and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 1979 (NYSE: LOW). During this time, U.S. housing starts soared and professional builders became Lowe's loyal customers, accounting for the majority of Lowe's business. In 1982, Lowe's had its first billion-dollar sales year, earning a record profit of $25 million.
Lowe's stores then reported serving a new type of customer: do-it-yourself homeowners seeking to improve the value of their properties. Anticipating their needs while still accommodating contractors, Lowe's began to enlarge its stores and expanded its merchandise offerings.
Lowe's prototype store today is 116,000 retail selling square feet -- compared with the typical 11,000-square-foot Lowe's stores of the 1980's. Lowe's stores stock 40,000 products and have another 500,000 items available by special order--offering practically everything customers need to build, beautify and enjoy their homes. Lowe's uses the latest technology to track and order inventory and help customers create solutions for their home improvement projects. Today, there are more than 1,200 Lowe's stores in 49 states.
Lowe's fiscal year 2005 sales totaled approximately $43.2 billion thanks to the efforts of more than 175,000 employee-owners serving today's do-it-yourselfer and commercial customer. Although times have changed since Lowe's first opened its doors in 1946, Lowe's values have not – the company remains committed to offering quality home improvement products at the lowest prices, while delivering superior customer service.
Lowe's is currently expanding to new markets across the country. The company opened 140 new stores in fiscal year 2004, and has announced plans for 150 new stores in fiscal year 2005 and 150 - 160 additional stores in fiscal year 2006.
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