Our History



Our History
Photo Gallery
Memoribilia For Sale


Howard P. Sears Sr. 

 1896 -1984


For Howard P. Sears Sr., 1896 was a wonderful year in which to be born.  In Bombay, NY as in all of the United States the bicycle was the main means of transportation.  The automobile had been invented, but its replacement of the bicycle was yet to come.

Howard's parents Thomas A and Jennie Sears moved to Rome in 1900 when Thomas Sears purchased the AP Tuller Wholesale Grocery Company together with AP Tuller's personal residence located at 207 West Embargo St. in this city.  Howard was the second of three sons.  Floyd A. was the older son, and Kyle D. was the younger son.  All were to develop their own business and to soon compete with one another.

About 1910 and at the age of 14, Howard gave up his schooling in favor of starting his first business venture located in the carriage house (313 Scott Ave, located behind the Embargo Street home.)

Lacking severely for capital, Howard called upon his ingenuity and business acumen.  He would ride the trolley car to Utica where he purchased used bicycles. He then checked them (free) in the baggage car for the return trip to Rome.  He became adept at "spoking" wheels and other repairs to ready the bikes for resale.

Upon accumulating sufficient capital, Howard's business advanced to the sale of new bicycles and bicycle accessories. 

While the H.P. Sears Cycle Co. grew successfully, the bicycle was being rapidly replaced by the automobile.  Hence, a transition from bicycles to automobile accessories was soon underway.  Howard was already showing his astute business sense that would serve him so well throughout his business career.

By 1912 and at the age of 15 Howard had published his first very professional and impressive catalog of automobile accessories under the name of Sears Auto Supply Company.     

As in the bicycle business, Howard found success in selling auto accessories both at wholesale and retail levels.  In these early days of the growing popularity of the "Horseless Carriage", windshields, running boards, headlights, and horns were not always standard equipment.  The tires and tubes of the day were both rudimentary, short lived and undependable by today's standards.  There was also a demand for the many tools and repair parts required to keep these early machines running.  Articles of clothing such as "dusters", driving gloves, and goggles are found in the catalogs.

Howard was always quick to recognize a new business opportunity.  Accordingly, by 1919 he was selling gasoline to the growing number of automobile owners.  As the popularity of the early autos grew, they came supplied with more items such as windshields, running boards, and horns as standard equipment.  As the demand for auto supplies diminished, the demand for gasoline, lubricants and lubricating services grew rapidly.

Once again, Howard changed the direction of his young company when he created the OIL DEPARTMENT of the Sears Auto Supply Company.  Additional gasoline pumps and an additional grades of gasoline were added to the Scott Ave location. The location which came to be known as "The Alley" was to be remembered by many generations of Roman's who were loyal customers and came to depend on    


By 1920 Howard had purchased his first gasoline delivery truck, in 1923 he built his first bulk storage terminal at a location served by railroad on South George Street in Rome.

By 1925 the business was incorporated as the H.P. Sears Oil Co., Inc.

By 1928-29 Howard had built an all new and modern gasoline filling station at 312 Oriskany Blvd. in Utica.  The design was nearly the same as the Station constructed at George and Liberty Streets, Rome in 1930 and the gasoline service station constructed on Main Street, Ilion in 1933.

Howard had adopted the trade name Tri-Pure for marketing gasoline.  This trade name continued in use for the sale of not only gasoline but also for various grease and motor oil products. In later years Howard chose to sell his premium products under the SEARS brand and Tri-Pure was used to identify the secondary grades.

Consistent with his practice of anticipating and filling customer needs, Howard made kerosene available at all locations.  Kerosene lamps were still a primary means of lighting in many homes, but with time they gave way to electric lighting.  Kerosene cooking stoves were later replaced by manufactured gas.  However kerosene remained a popular fuel for space heating and the H.P. Sears Oil Company started delivering kerosene and No. 2 fuel oil directly to the homes.  By the late 1930's and early 1940's Howard had again recognized new markets when he started selling industrial fuel oils, but that is where the story of Howard's early business career ends and the rest remains for another time.

Starting in 1936 Howard recognized the need to upgrade and change the design of his future service stations.  Thus, the still remembered red, white and blue art-deco porcelain enamel design was created.  Also at this time the familiar large porcelain enameled oval shaped Sears Service Station sign first appeared. 

The design was utilized as follows:


River Road Marcy NY (The second Sears Oil Co., Inc. Bulk Storage Terminal


Corner of James and Bloomfield Streets, Rome, NY 

229 Main Street, Herkimer, NY

17 Genesee Street, New Hartford, NY

1939 State St. and Erie Blvd, Syracuse, NY
Broad Street and Lenox Ave, Oneida, NY

As of 2006 the Sears Service Station Museum is the only remaining station of the original design which was also utilized on Oriskany Blvd. in Utica and Main Street in Ilion.  The Oneida, NY station is still standing, but due to painting and other changes, the exterior appearance has greatly diminished from the art-deco glory days.



You are visitor number


debt consolidation loans

PLEASE NOTE: Our system deactivates your counter automatically if code is altered.

free web counter


Send mail to nscaler1@aol.com with questions or comments about this web site.