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For more than 100 years, mail order catalogs have been bringing people access to products that they might not otherwise have been able to get to. Particularly helpful for people who live in rural or remote areas, the mail order catalog was an exciting and useful part of life!

History of National Mail Order Catalog Day

Although Benjamin Franklin has a good claim to be the world’s first mail order entrepreneur, it is the anniversary of the first Montogomery Ward catalog on August 18, 1872 that has provided the date for National Mail Order Catalog Day. Over the intervening years, this little catalog started so long ago by Aaron Montgomery Ward grew from a single page of products to a monster capable of striking fear into the stoutest of postal workers containing more than 500 pages!

Alas, the Montgomery Ward behemoth is no longer around, having given its final farewell in 1985, followed not long after by the departure of the famed Sears catalog in 1993. Other mail order catalog companies still carry the torch, however, such as the catalog with the longest run to date, the Hammacher Schlemmer, which has been around since 1848 and still plies tools and building materials (no doubt including flashlights, since Sears sadly dropped theirs).

With the dawn of the internet, and the effort to reduce paper usage, the mail order catalog in its original form has mostly gone by the wayside. Most companies now have websites from which individuals can order products at the touch of a button or tap of a screen, having them delivered to their door sometimes in as little as a couple of hours.

Even so, National Mail Order Catalog Day offers an exciting opportunity to relive some nostalgia and show some appreciation for this practical day that’s worth celebrating!

How to Celebrate National Mail Order Catalog Day

Get to turning those pages, literally or figuratively, when observing and enjoying National Mail Order Catalog Day by implementing some of these ideas:

Order Through the Mail

While ordering physical copies of catalogs might be a thing of the past, as well as a less-than-sustainable way to do business, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to observe National Mail Order Catalog Day anyway!

Celebrate the day in style by hopping onto some online websites to see what type of offerings they have and ordering some goodies to be delivered to the home. Running shoes might be a great place to start, especially if your mailman is not of a forgiving nature!

Find Some Vintage Mail Order Catalogs

In observance of National Mail Order Catalog Day, it might be interesting to search in grandma’s attic or a charity shop to come up with some old mail order catalogs. Check out the funny styles of clothing from the 1970s. It could also be fun to make some crafts from them, like creating a silly collage, doing some origami or even making some clever cards. Repurposing old mail order catalogs is a great win for the environment, and it would be a delightful activity to enjoy with children at home or in a school environment!

Learn Some Facts About Mail Order Catalogs

National Mail Order Catalog Day is just the right time to learn a little bit more about this important part of business and industry as it has affected consumers for more than 100 years.

  • Montgomery Ward was an early adopter of the “money back guarantee” which helped customers have confidence in their orders.

  • Sears started out as a watch mogul but transitioned to offering clothing and other items within the first five years of their mail order catalog.

  • Throughout the early 1900s, a family could buy everything they needed to construct an entire DIY house from the Sears Catalog. About 70,000 of these homes were purchased and roughly 70% of them are still standing today!

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