Each year, on Black Friday, Amazon sells more than 200 items per second.

Which is kind of crazy, when you think about it. Imagine what life would be like if you got 200 text messages every second, or 200 phone calls.

What enables Amazon to keep up with those orders are its 40 fulfillment centers. These giant warehouses are like real-life Santa’s Workshops: acre after acre of metal shelves stuffed with flash drives and dog treats and socket wrenches. The largest facility, outside Phoenix, covers 1.2 million square feet—larger than 20 football fields.

And get this. Sears Crosstown was bigger.

When the last additions were completed in 1965, the floor area topped out at an astonishing 1.5 million square feet—bigger than the Chrysler Building in New York.

In many ways, Sears was Amazon before Amazon. Like Amazon, they leveraged a new technology (the mail-order catalog) to capture business and grow a retail empire. Like Amazon, they were a one-stop shop, selling everything from groceries to kit houses.

And like Amazon, they were humongous. Sears Crosstown served 750,000 customers in a seven-state region every year. At its peak, this single warehouse was capable of processing 45,000 catalog orders in a single day—on average, a new order every two seconds.

 Photo by: Jamie Harmon

Photo by: Jamie Harmon

A lot has changed since 1965. Sears Crosstown is now Crosstown Concourse, and much contained within the old building had to go—beginning with the eleven-story network of chutes and conveyor belts that formed the beating heart of the Sears Catalog operation.

But one thing we’re keeping is the building’s legacy of connectivity.

Fifty years ago, that meant stuff. It meant floor lamps and lawnmowers and washing machines. Today, it means fostering the connections and generating the ideas that will make Memphis competitive in the 21st century.

Beginning in 2017, over 3000 people will pass through Crosstown Concourse every day. Will you be one of them?

 Photo by: LRK

Photo by: LRK