Founded in 1946, Lowe's has grown from a small hardware store in North Carolina to the second largest home improvement retailer worldwide and the 7th largest retailer in the U.S.
The Lowe's story began in North Carolina 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 to wash tubs, work boots and even horse collars.
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 neighbouring 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. The modern Lowe's began in 1994, when our new store expansion consisted of only large stores, which we define as stores with greater than 85,000 square feet of selling space. In 2006, our expansion continues, opening a new store on average every three days with our 117,000-square-foot (117K) stores in the nation's larger metro markets and our newer 94,000-square-foot (94K) stores in the nation's small to mid-sized markets. We opened our first stores in Canada in 2007.
Lowe's stores stock 40,000 products and have hundreds of thousands more available by special order – offering practically everything customers need to build, beautify and enjoy their homes.
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.