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Post Decline and Fall of Sears; on Catalog Retailers
Created by John Eipper on 06/24/14 3:28 AM

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Decline and Fall of Sears; on Catalog Retailers (Mike Bonnie, USA, 06/24/14 3:28 am)

Sears (and railroads) received mention yesterday (23 June), on a National Public Radio program in discussion of so-called "smart phones" and Internet retailers including Amazon, Google, eBay and a host of others. "The first Sears catalog was published in 1888. By 1894, the Sears catalog had grown to 322 pages, featuring sewing machines, bicycles, sporting goods, automobiles (produced from 1905 to 1915 by Lincoln Motor Car Works of Chicago, not related to the current Ford line), and a host of other new items."


Although less diversified in product lines, Spiegel was not far behind, and by 1997 it peaked $3.06 billion in sales. "Founded in April 1865, Spiegel is a leading US direct marketing retailer of apparel, accessories and footwear. Spiegel mailed its first mail order catalog to women across America in 1905, and just 20 years later, the fashion and furniture retailer had 10 million customers." Following bankruptcy and reorganization in 2003, Spiegel changed owners three times within ten years and now focuses on digital media and television promotions. A spring 2014 catalog is available."


Coming soon to a smart phone near you will be shares of stock in the largest of the large Internet retailers, Alibaba, the Hangzhou, China-based web portal. Sales of stock shares in the US are expected to exceed Facebook's $16 billion offering in 2012.


Shopping malls, love them or hate them, I sense danger in the demise of "post" stores such as Sears. With access to Peapod.com, anyone can live a nearly germ-free life.


JE comments: What Amazon basically did was put the Sears and Spiegel retail model on the computer. One wonders why the catalog behemoths were unable to make the transition themselves.

This marks me as a yokel, but I fondly remember the Sears Christmas "Wish Book"--it wasn't "Holiday" back then. That was how you shopped and wished for Christmas when you lived in the boondocks.  (Louisiana, Missouri had a Sears Catalog Store downtown, a tiny shop that took your orders, which you picked up in a week or so.  They would also return items for you if they didn't fit.) 

This young wisher is about my age.  I just did a ten-minute flip through Google images, and it seems that until the late 1980s, the WB covers featured Aryan children only:


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