Catalog Department: Montgomery Ward

Montgomery Wards storefront

Most of you remember Montgomery Ward not only for their department store, but also for their catalog. Or more lovingly called the “Wish Book”.

Montgomery ward Christmas 1980

Aaron Montgomery Ward started the nation’s first mail-order business in 1872 when he issued his first catalog, a single sheet price list of 163 items. Montgomery Ward would remain a leader in the catalog industry for the next 113 years.

Montgomery ward catalog sales

In 1975 the catalog division of Montgomery Ward was operating catalog order desks in all 433 retail stores in addition to 555 catalog stores and 1,288 catalog sales agencies.

Montgomery ward sales slumpingWithin 4 years of opening their first retail store Montgomery Ward started to see the retail sales overtake the catalog sales. Sadly catalog sales would continue a slow and steady decline.

The company ultimately made the decision to close the catalog division and cease publication with the last catalog being issued in December 1985. That was the final Christmas edition.

Montgomery ward catalog showroom

The prestigious Grolier Club, America’s oldest society of bibliophiles, named the Montgomery Ward catalog as one of only one hundred books that had most influenced the life and culture of American people.

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