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The Old Sears Catalog

Updated on October 19, 2018
DreamingBoomer profile image

Karen lives and works in Jackson, MS with her husband and son. She enjoys writing, reading, and playing Dungeons and Dragons

The Old Sears Catalog

This is a fun topic for me to talk about, but I must say I also hate to see that Sears may be closing its doors soon.

I hope in some small way the attention from this lens helps to at least keep the catalog business running for many years to come.

Why write an article on a catalog? The old Sears Catalog is not just any catalog. Sears and Roebuck were the first to mass produce catalogs and sell through mail order. The industrial revolution helped to make Sears a huge success.

If you are over 50, you probably have childhood memories of the Sears Catalog like I do. I remember my brother and I going through the catalog every year around Thanksgiving and circling every single thing we wanted in the whole book, which was something like 500 pages back then.

Somehow Santa magically got all those circled pages and managed to get at least some of our wishlist under the tree every single year!

Another funny memory is my Nana and Papa remodeled an old home and kept the old outhouse in the backyard as a kind of funny conversation piece. Nana put an old Sears Catalog in the outhouse for authenticity. I did not know for many years what that was for......but apparently the old issues made excellent toilet paper!

The 1943 Sears News Graphic wrote that the Sears catalog,

"serves as a mirror of our times, recording for future historians today's desires, habits, customs, and mode of living."

The roots of the Sears catalog are as old as the company. In 1888, Richard Sears first used a printed mailer to advertise watches and jewelry. Under the banner "The R.W. Sears Watch Co." Sears promised his customers that,

"we warrant every American watch sold by us, with fair usage, an accurate time keeper for six years - during which time, under our written guarantee we are compelled to keep it in perfect order free of charge."

We pretty much expect that sort of guarantee today, but I guess it was a big deal back then. I suppose we have Mr. Sears to thank for expecting quality!

Toy Catalog

Toy Catalogs were the best!
Toy Catalogs were the best!

Using the Sears Catalog

What? A House? From a Catalog? SEARS had it all!

Hogue House in Chelsea, Oklahoma is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built from the Saratoga model in the SEARS catalog in 1912, it is thought to be the first SEARS kit home in Oklahoma.
Hogue House in Chelsea, Oklahoma is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built from the Saratoga model in the SEARS catalog in 1912, it is thought to be the first SEARS kit home in Oklahoma. | Source

Neatkins

Neatkins - these remind me of the type of stuff that was popular when I was a little girl.
Neatkins - these remind me of the type of stuff that was popular when I was a little girl.

Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments: makes me think of "76 Trombones" in "The Music Man". I played trombone for a couple of years, but we didn't buy it from the SEARS catalog. I think we got it second hand.
Musical Instruments: makes me think of "76 Trombones" in "The Music Man". I played trombone for a couple of years, but we didn't buy it from the SEARS catalog. I think we got it second hand.

2018 - SEARS files for Bankruptcy: Will we ever see another SEARS catalog?

Hopefully at least some stores will remain open. I would hate to see this long-lived and rather large slice of Americana relegated to the History books!

I guess time will tell.

Thayer Barn: Built from a Kit - from the Sears Catalog!

Built during the Depression of the 1930's from a Sears & Roebuck barn catalogue and featuring a popular gothic style roof, the Thayer Barn is one of the last remaining dairy barns standing within the City of Duvall in the Snoqualmie River Valley.
Built during the Depression of the 1930's from a Sears & Roebuck barn catalogue and featuring a popular gothic style roof, the Thayer Barn is one of the last remaining dairy barns standing within the City of Duvall in the Snoqualmie River Valley. | Source

My Favorite Stuff to order from the Catalog - When I was a kid

There was practically no limit on what you could order in the Old Sears Catalogs. I have a few favorite things I used to look for first when the new catalogs came out.

  1. Fuzzy Slippers
  2. fun Pajamas
  3. Winter coats
  4. Baby Dolls
  5. Stuffed Animals
  6. Sunday dresses
  7. Purses
  8. Stereos and record players
  9. Bicycles

Thumbing Through - 1984

Love these old Hats! - Can you imagine?

Cute hats from what looks like around the 1920s. Happy times!
Cute hats from what looks like around the 1920s. Happy times!

Do you remember the Sears catalog? - What was on your wishlist?

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    • DreamingBoomer profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kay 

      3 years ago from Jackson, MS

      You're most welcome Larry! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    • DreamingBoomer profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kay 

      4 years ago from Jackson, MS

      That is so fun, Warrior! I bet she had a blast!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      It's so cool for me to read this. My mother modeled for the Sears and Roebuck catalog in the early to mid '50s. Then she married and had me in 1957. I forgot all about that until I read this hub.

    • DreamingBoomer profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kay 

      4 years ago from Jackson, MS

      I'm so glad to know it still brings smiles!

    • thebrownbear profile image

      thebrownbear 

      4 years ago

      My daughter and I just picked up the Wishbook yesterday and looked through the toy section. Reminded me of when I was a child. :)

      Thanks for reminding me of the good old days.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I loved the arrival of the Sears catalogue in my home when I was a teenager. It was so exciting to see all the interesting items and to think about what I would buy if I could afford it. I remember finding the clothing especially appealing. Thank you for the memories!

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 

      4 years ago from Texas USA

      I loved the toy issue.

    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 

      4 years ago from western pennsylvania

      I used to have one of those fire trucks too. It was a great memory.

    • DreamingBoomer profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kay 

      4 years ago from Jackson, MS

      Thanks so much Don! That's a cool memory. Love it!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I grew up in a large city with both Sears and Wards warehousees. This allowed us to make catalog purchase at the store and get our purchase while we waited for it. Both companies had good reputations for quality, as well. voted up and shared

    • DreamingBoomer profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Kay 

      4 years ago from Jackson, MS

      Thanks Billy. I had fun writing it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Talk about dredging up some old memories. I would literally spend hours thumbing through the Sears catalog as a kid. It was great entertainment and the stuff that dreams are built on. Thanks for the memories.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      My first pair of boots came from the Sears catalog, they were lace ups with a small pocket knife on the side in a pouch. We lived on a ranch at the time and places to shop were 30 miles away.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Oh yeah, many hours were spent flipping those pages. Great bit of nostalgia.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      7 years ago from United States

      Oh my, indeed I do! Would you believe I have saved all of the Sears Christmas Wishbooks from when my children were little. I saved them for the exact reason you wrote about. Their precious little hands marked every item they wanted that year. I can easily recall them being stretched out on the floor, heads together, pens in hand and circling their choices. They did have to put their initials by them so Santa would know for sure which child was making the request :)

    • profile image

      poutine 

      7 years ago

      I certainly do. Plus, here in Canada, we had the Eaton's catalog and the Dupuis & freres from Montreal.

      Many hours were spent dreaming with those catalogs in hand.

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 

      7 years ago

      A significant part of American history. Thanks!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      My sister and I loved flipping through the old sears catalogs choosing all the items for our future home.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Yep, I sure do. My parents always had one around when I was very young in the mid- to late 70s. Somewhere along the line, though, it disappeared, never to be seen in our household again.

    • glenbrook profile image

      glenbrook 

      8 years ago

      Yes. When I was a kid I used to love looking at the Sears Christmas Catalog and making my "gift list." In some ways it was even more fun than opening presents on Christmas morning. I lived in a small town and a lot of the stuff my parents bought was ordered through catalogs.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 

      8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      I have been a loyal Sears customer forever! We have still have the catalogs delivered to our home in BC (Canada). I received one this week. (Gosh! I just booked travel through Sears yesterday!) When I was a contract newspaper delivery driver...I also delivered the Sears catalogs to the carriers! (I left that position last fall.) It's hard to believe the catalogs may be discontinued! Thanks for your memories of Sears catalogs!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      Yep, we used to cut out the clothing models to play paperdolls. We cut out the furniture from the Sears catalog too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Cool I actually had one of the little fire trucks you have on here! Thank you for the memories!

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