Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : Follett Corp.
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Follett Corp.

 

 

 

Follett Corp.

In 1873, Charles Barnes started running a bookstore out of his home in Wheaton, Illinois. In 1917, after Barnes's son William moved to New York to create the company that became Barnes & Noble, the Illinois business changed hands. The new owners were John Wilcox and C. W. Follett, who had worked for many years as a salesman in the Barnes organization; the new enterprise was called the J. W. Wilcox & Follett Co. By 1923, Follett took charge; after his death in 1952, his son Dwight Follett became head of the company, then a leading wholesaler of textbooks. The company became the Follett Corp. in 1957, with headquarters in downtown Chicago. By the mid-1970s, Follett had about 800 employees in the Chicago area, and annual sales were around $50 million. Robert Follett, a son of Dwight, took over in 1977 and led a considerable expansion. The company bought dozens of college and university bookstores around the country, becoming a leading retailer of textbooks. By the end of the 1990s, Follett—based in River Grove, just west of Chicago—reached $1 billion in annual sales and employed about 2,000 people in the Chicago area.