Back before the days of online ordering, there was another way to order things and have them delivered without having to go to the store. It was convenient and it was fun, but the amount of paper that came through the door was insane. I am talking about the mail order catalog.
Stores would send you little booklets filled with their merchandise. You could get anything from clothing to candles to food to furniture delivered. Just like we do today, but it wasn’t done by computer. You could call in your order and pay by credit card or you could actually fill out the order slip in the back of the catalog and either put down your credit card number or actually write a check and put it in the envelope.
I loved getting catalogs in the mail. I could sit for hours with my L.L. Bean, Land’s End and Spiegel catalogs planning outfits that I never ordered. It’s funny, I was on the Neiman Marcus website yesterday looking at handbags with my sister on the phone. We were talking about handbags and then she told me what website she was on, and I hopped on too. Back in the day we would probably have fought over who got to hold the catalog.
I remember my first experiences with catalogs came from the Sears and Robuck catalog and the big Christmas Toys R Us book that came to my parents. I don’t know why, but I was fascinated with looking at the Sears book. I know why I loved the Toys R Us guide…I was circled all the things I wanted for Christmas. That early fascination just continued to grow as I got older.
The problem is when you signed up for a catalog you would be bombarded with 10 others you had never seen before. Just like businesses sell your email today, back then they sold your address. And you couldn’t just click the unsubscribe button, you had to actually call the company and tell them to knock it off. And you also ended up with multiple copies of the same fall catalog or spring issue. Like I said, there was a lot of paper coming through the door.
Today it is easier to shop from home. You look at a website, place your order with a few quick hits on the keyboard and a few days later it arrives on your doorstep. But there was something great about coming home and checking the mail and seeing a catalog in the pile. It was always the first thing looked at and it was saved to look at again and again until the next one was delivered. It was something special.
Today is National Mail Order Catalog Day…I’m serious, it’s a thing. I am asking you what your favorite catalog was that you used to get in the mail. Was it Eddie Bauer? Talbots? Hickory Farms at Christmas? J.C. Penny’s? It takes me back to a simpler time; a time when getting a piece of mail with merchandise in it seemed special. Yes, I know I am drowning in nostalgia, I’m good with that. I also hope I get my Ulta Flyer in the mail today…that would be the icing on the cake.
***Question for the comments…Did you like the mail order catalogs? What was your favorite catalog to receive in the mail?
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