Lands' End Founder 1927–2006
Gary Comer's first love was sailing. A passion that led him, eventually, to world class sailing fame and many notable yacht racing wins along the way.
As a young man, unable to afford a college education, he went straight out to work after finishing school, and, many odd jobs later, landed a position at the renowned advertising agency of Young & Rubicam. It was 1950. He stayed for a decade. Long enough for him to establish himself as an award-winning advertising copywriter. His sense of adventure soon got the better of him. And quitting his now comfortable job, he travelled Europe for a year, returning to Chicago and a brief spell back in advertising, before once again answering to the call of a new and exciting adventure. Seeing a gap in the market (and one especially close to his heart), he started his own business supplying sailing equipment - from hardware to duffle bags, rain suits and the odd item of clothing. The clothing collection was soon to win customer favour and began to out-sell the sailing equipment. Land's End was born. It was 1963. By 1965 the company had begun to show a small profit, enough to enable Gary and his partners to print their first catalogue. On the front was the name Lands' End - complete with every copywriter's nightmare, a typographical error! Unable to afford a re-print, the misplaced apostrophe stayed - as it does to this day (prompting a few raised eyebrows among English teachers). By 1977 the focus had shifted from sailing to clothing and the first all-clothing catalogue was launched.
By 1978, Lands' End headquarters had migrated from Chicago to Dodgeville, Wisconsin, where it remains the single biggest employer today (6,000 people) and where you'll still find some of the people who worked with Gary in the early days. They'd be proud to tell you that, though Gary is no longer at the helm, his values, his passion for delivering quality and unbeatable service, remain the working ethos for every Lands' End employee to this day.
1. Make it as good as you can.
2. Improve it whenever possible.
3. Always, always price it fairly.
4. Guarantee it for life.
(or as Gary first put it 'Guarantee it. Period.')
But perhaps Gary's most enduring legacy is his Lifetime Guarantee. It was a pretty unique promise back then.... and it still astonishes most today. You can return any item at any time for any reason – no ifs, no buts, no problem.