Before there was Amazon and other on-line orders, there were mail ordered catalogs. You could order about anything through these catalogs; like you can on-line. Guys could ordered a mail order bride if they wanted to.
People would take these catalogs to the outhouse to go to the bathroom.
Spiegel was such a catalog. I don’t know if they had a store or not. They had a catalog that went out around the country.
Montgomery Wards was started in the early 1900’s, give or take. They had catalogs and even had a store that you can browse through to see the products. They sold appliances as well as clothes.
I remembered as a child going in the Montgomery Ward store in Moorhead, MN with my folks. That store was on 8th st and Main ave, just behind the Dairy Queen. After going in the store, we would stop at the Dairy Queen for some ice cream.
The Dairy Queen is still there but not Montgomery Ward. I don’t know if there is any down South though.
There used to be a Woolworths around the country. They had an escalator between the two floors. At lease the one in Fargo, ND did, right on Broadway next to the railroad crossing.
They was also known for fountain; which was to them as a little café that sold ice cream soda, along with hamburgers and fries. They also were big down South. They had their shares of racial trouble though. Such as segregation of the blacks from the whites.
The Woolworths store was known also as a five and dime stores.
Do they still have any down South?
Another retail store similar to the Woolworths was Ben Franklin. Except Ben Franklin didn’t have the fountain(café). They both were the five and dime stores. Ben Franklin was mainly located in small town. They had the small town atmosphere.
The building for Woolworths is still on Broadway in Fargo because it’s a historical landmark.
Ben Franklin is one of the latest stores who is slowly disappearing from our small towns. There is no more in Fargo; and there were a few in Fargo-Moorhead.
The last time I was in a Ben Franklin store was when I was in Park Rapids, MN. It was nice little store for that small town.
There was a grocery store by the name of Piggly-wiggly. There isn’t any of them up north. There is still some down South though. They were a small town grocery store atmosphere. We would grocery shop there along with Red Owl as well. Both are not around in Fargo-Moorhead anymore.
Red Owl was bought out by Super Value; which also owned Hornbacher’s. Now Hornbacher’s is a huge store.
Whereas, Piggly-wiggly merge with Buttry-Oscal, and soon became Sunmart. Now Sunmart is known as Family Fare.
Macy was only around since 1929. They are old but they are not the oldest retail store. Macy is also struggling.
One of the latest casualty of the oldest retailers is Sears. Sears had been around as long as Montgomery Ward. They started out as a catalog. They sold practically everything in the catalog, even a bride.
At one time, they had Sears Tower in Chicago. They sold Craftman tools. They sold appliances as well as tires for automobiles. They sold farm equipment. At one time they sold good American made stuff for Midwest and across the country and world.
When we moved down to the farm, we bought our washer and dryer from Sears. They lasted a long time. That was because things were made to last; not like now. Now days things are made to buy and not last.
Sears started going downhill since the 90’s. What kept them around as they did was that they merge with Kmart. As I said in my blog, Sears is an albatross around Kmart’s neck. Sears was the reason for Kmart struggling like they are today.
There is no more Sears around; except for those that is in the Kmart stores.
Are you ready for it? Drumrolls please!! The winner is for the oldest retailers is…JC Penny.
JC. Penny started the same time as Montgomery Ward and Sears. They also started out as a catalog.
Even though they are struggling as well, they are hanging on; which is good. I like shopping at JC Penny. I always get nice clothes when I shop there. If they close that store, why would I need to go to West Acres? I prefer them over Sears. I prefer them over Macy.
There you have it folks. I named few of the oldest retailers. A lot of those stores are gone now, except for the memories. I even told you the winner, the retailers that is pretty much still around for now.