A PIECE OF HISTORY--BACK IN TIME

Posted by Judy Cholfe on Sunday, November 23, 2014 Under: Just So You Know

A PIECE OF HISTORY--BACK IN TIME

A PIECE OF HISTORY—BACK IN TIME

Well hello everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend?

I know it’s early to have all the Christmas decorations up, both inside and out, but I just couldn’t wait any longer….I wanted it all lit up so I could enjoy everything for a while before Christmas. (I’m still just a kid when it comes to Christmas…..yahoo!!!!!)

My father sent me this article, a little while ago, about an American store chain, (that is no longer), known as “MONTGOMERY WARD”.

Being a Canadian, it is not a store that I grew up with, but I always remember hearing the name.

"Montgomery Ward" “is the name of two historically distinct American retail enterprises. It can refer either to the defunct mail order and department store retailer, which operated between 1872 and 2000, or to the current catalog and online retailer also known as Wards”.
“Montgomery Ward was founded by Aaron Montgomery Ward in 1872. Ward had conceived of the idea of a dry goods mail-order business in Chicago, Illinois, after several years of working as a traveling salesman among rural customers. He observed that rural customers often wanted “city” goods but their only access to them was through rural retailers who had little competition and offered no guarantee of quality. Ward also believed that by eliminating intermediaries, he could cut costs and make a wide variety of goods available to rural customers, who could purchase goods by mail and pick them up at the nearest train station.

After several false starts, including the destruction of his first inventory by the Great Chicago Fire, Ward started his business at his first office, either in a single room at 825 North Clark Street, or in a loft above a livery stable on Kinzie Street between Rush and State Streets. He and two partners used $1,600 they had raised in capital and issued their first catalog in August 1872 which consisted of an 8 in × 12 in (20 cm × 30 cm) single-sheet price list, listing 163 items for sale with ordering instructions for which Ward had written the copy. His two partners left the following year, but he continued the struggling business and was joined by his future brother-in-law George Robinson Thorne.

"1934 Christmas Catalogue"

Excellent… See also how the price of things changed proportions, for example in the 1940s you could buy a fine house for the same cost of some 564 pair of shoes ($1000 / $1.77), approximately, or some 1000 body mesh for women. That explains how our parents and grandparents could so easily buy their houses by just working in plain commerce. 
Today how many pair of shoes you have to sell to buy a house today?
Life really got so much harder I think…

1934 Christmas catalogue

UNBELIEVABLE !
And made in America , too!”

(Note the last line! Baby, we’ve come a long way!! )

"In the first few years, the business was not well received by rural retailers. Considering Ward a threat, they sometimes publicly burned his catalog. Despite the opposition, however, the business grew at a fast pace over the next several decades, fueled by demand primarily from rural customers who were attracted by the wide selection of items unavailable to them locally. Customers were also attracted by the innovative and unprecedented company policy of "satisfaction guaranteed or your money back", which Ward began in 1875. Ward turned the copy writing over to department heads, but he continued poring over every detail in the catalog for accuracy.

In 1883, the company’s catalog, which became popularly known as the “Wish Book”, had grown to 240 pages and 10,000 items. In 1896, Wards acquired its first serious competition in the mail order business, when Richard Warren Sears introduced his first general catalog. In 1900, Wards had total sales of $8.7 million, compared to $10 million for Sears, Roebuck and Co., and the two companies were to struggle for dominance for much of the 20th century. By 1904, the company had grown such that it mailed three million catalogs, weighing 4 lb (1.8 kg) each, to customers.

In 1908, the company opened a 1.25 million ft² (116,000 m²) building stretching along nearly one-quarter mile of the Chicago River, north of downtown Chicago. (I actually took a picture of this building, which is now condos, but a virus erased a lot of my picture file). The building, known as the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalog House, served as the company headquarters until 1974, when the offices moved across the street to a new tower designed by Minoru Yamasaki. The catalog house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978 and a Chicago historic landmark in May 2000. In the decades before 1930, Montgomery Ward built a network of large distributions centers across the country in Baltimore, Fort Worth, Kansas City, St. Paul, Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California. In most cases, these reinforced concrete structures were the largest industrial structures in their respective locations. The Baltimore Montgomery Ward Warehouse and Retail Store was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000”.

(read more…..)

Taking an “Architectural” river cruise in Chicago this summer, it was awe-inspiring to see the history behind Montgomery Ward, and all his accomplishments, and then unfortunately, the fall of an amazing retailer.

We have the same thing here in Canada, with the closure of stores like “Simpson’s”, “Eaton’s”, “Zeller’s”, “K-Mart”, “Woolworth’s”, and even a store that I worked in different periods of my life…”Mark’s and Spencer’s”
Changes are always present as time passes. Unfortunately, many loose thier jobs because of it!

Here’s hoping you won’t be in the same scenario….



At this time of year, everyone is so busy…I would be more than happy to decorate your home for the holidays with your own decorations, or purchase brand new. Together, we can add pieces to enhance a theme that you have going on, or develope a totally different setting, be it “Country”, “Totally Glam”, “Traditional Red and Green”, or a fabulous “Deep Purple and Silver”, or “Turquoise”. The choices are limitless!

Have fun getting ready for the Christmas season…..Until next time, Judy

Contact me if you would like to set up an appointment, or have questions you need answered, at (705)727-6282 or jcredesigns@gmail.com…..I can assist you with a Redesign Consult, a full Redesign or Staging, Down-Sizing/Transitioning to a smaller house or apartment, De-Cluttering, Proper Furniture Placement, Colour Consult, or be your Personal Shopper for that perfect accessory to complete your redesign….

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In : Just So You Know 


Tags: #montgomery ward #mail order #catalog 
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About Me


Judy Cholfe Hi, thanks for stopping by! I am Judy Cholfe, IRP...(Interior Redesign Professional), owner/operator of JC Redesigns, Interior Redesign/Staging-- Servicing Simcoe County and GTA. (705)727-6282 jcredesigns@gmail.com Decorating is my passion and I want to share that passion with you, the client..... I want to energize, motivate, and inspire people to do something fun and creative in their own homes. I also totally love anything DIY.

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