Chronicling the home improvement giant's history and key events from its founding in 1921 to the present day.

Split into eras highlighting early years, rapid expansion, and recent history, this timeline of Lowe's traces how a small-town hardware store grew into one of the largest retail chains in America.

From the first store in Wilkesboro to national prominence and international reach, the timeline of Lowe's is marked by ambition, acquisition, and evolution over its 100+ year rise.

EARLY YEARS (1921-1960)

North Wilkesboro Hardware which would someday become Lowe's
© History Oasis

1921 — Beginnings

Lucius Smith Lowe, a farmer and former rural mail carrier, opens the first Lowe's store in his hometown of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

The small town hardware store is named North Wilkesboro Hardware and initially sells overalls, work shirts, fertilizer and other farming supplies.

1940 — Founder Dead

Founder Lucius Lowe passes away and the single hardware store is inherited by his daughter Ruth Buchan.

She decided to sell the store to her brother James Lowe for $4,200 later that same year.  

1943 — Construction Pivot

James Lowe takes on his brother-in-law H. Carl Buchan as a business partner in the hardware store.

Together they shift the product focus to hardware and building materials to cater to the expected increase in construction after World War II.  

1949 — Rural Expansion

A second Lowe's store opens in the nearby town of Sparta, North Carolina to serve more rural customers.

1952 — Incorporation

After years of partnership, H. Carl Buchan buys out James Lowe to become the sole owner of the Lowe's company.

He incorporates the stores as Lowe's North Wilkesboro Hardware.

1954 — Lowes Foods

Separately from the Lowe's company, James Lowe launches a new grocery store chain called Lowes Foods to focus on that retail sector instead.

1960 — Owner Death

At only 44 years old, majority owner and president H. Carl Buchan suddenly passes away.

His wife takes over alongside a five-man executive team and they take the still small-town company public as Lowe's Companies Inc. to fuel future statewide and nationwide growth.

H2 GROWTH & EXPANSION (1961-1998)

A Lowe's in the 1970's
© History Oasis

1961  — IPO

With CEO Carl Buchan's widow and a five-man executive team now running the company, Lowe's goes public and lists shares on the NASDAQ stock exchange to fund expansion across North Carolina.

1962 — $32 Million

One year after going public, Lowe's has grown to operate 21 stores across North Carolina generating $32 million in annual revenue.

1970s — Eastern Expansion

Over the course of this high growth decade, Lowe's expands across state lines and opens hundreds of stores across the South and Eastern seaboard.

By the end of the 1970s, annual company revenue exceeds $150 million.

1979 — NYSE

On the back of surging growth and profitability from its stores, Lowe's uplists from the NASDAQ to begin trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

1980 — $1 Billion

Building on momentum, annual Lowe's revenue approaches $1 billion driven by 150+ new store openings that decade alone.

1989 — Largest Hardware Store

Through rapid organic growth and acquisitions of regional chains, Lowe's surpasses The Home Depot in size to become the nation's largest hardware retail chain.

1998 — Eagle Hardware & Garden

Lowe's acquires competitor Eagle Hardware & Garden for $1 billion, adding over 300 stores in one deal.

The company also purchases naming rights to Charlotte Motor Speedway for high profile NASCAR sponsorship.


A modern Lowe's store
© History Oasis

1999 — $23 Billion

On the back of 1990s growth, Lowe's annual revenue tops $23 billion making it one of the largest retailers in the United States.

2007 — International Expansion

Lowe's expands internationally for the first time, entering the Canadian market with three new home improvement stores.

2011 — Masters

The company partners with Australian retailer Woolworths to launch a joint venture hardware chain called Masters across Australia and New Zealand.

2016 — Australia Failure

After years of losses and facing local competition, Lowe's decides to exit the Masters joint venture, closing all 63 stores in Australia and New Zealand.

2018 — Fortune 500

Revenue for the U.S. and Mexico stores tops $71 billion, making Lowe's a Fortune 500 top 40 company.

2019 — NFL

Lowe's becomes an official sponsor of the National Football League and announces a $10+ billion share buyback program for investors.

2020 — COVID-19 Bump

As home improvement demand skyrockets during COVID-19 lockdowns, Lowe's annual revenue jumps 24% to $89.6 billion.

2022 — Inflation

To support hourly employees struggling with high inflation, Lowe's awards $55 million in bonus payments to frontline retail workers.

2023 — Canadian Exit

After 15 years in the market, Lowe's sells its Canadian division to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $400 million, exiting the country.