Back in the day, Sears and Roebuck was known for its catalog sales and huge department stores.
You could buy about anything through the Sears catalog, including a house at one time.
I wonder if there are any Sears homes in Poweshiek County?
I saw an article the other day that it has been 30 years since Sears last published its Big Book catalog. It was as big as the New York City Yellow pages and could keep any kid entertained for hours.
The giant retail store isn’t much more than a Skelton of its heyday. The store has been through bankruptcy and has been bought and sold by various holding companies.
According to an article I read on the internet, there are 42 Sears retail stores left as of mid-January 2023. There is also the independently owned Sears Hometown Stores and other various outlet stores. I don’t know a lot about those stores or how many are in Iowa.
It was much different when I was a kid in the 1970s. A trip to Sears was like eating a fried chicken dinner with all the fixings on Sunday after church.
The Sears store at 21st and Yale in my hometown of Tulsa, which was closest to our house, had a huge candy and popcorn stand. The popcorn was the best. The store featured a restaurant and three floors of everything from bicycles to furniture and clothing. They had tools, paints, housewares, appliances and much more.
There was also auto repair available where you could purchase tires and DieHard batteries at Sears. It was hard to beat a DieHard battery.
I liked riding the escalators up and down the different floors.
As a senior in high school, I worked briefly (six weeks) in the customer pickup department at the Tulsa Sears. I carried my share of fireplace screens, televisions and buckets of paint out the door. I won’t go into detail, but my career with the company didn’t last long. I’m thankful for the experience.
My mom often bought items through the catalog on numerous occasions. The Sears on Yale had a huge in-store catalog department.
One Saturday, Mom stopped at the store with plans to order something. There wasn’t a soul at the counter. She could see them milling around in the back but no one came to take her order. It upset her, so she went to the pay phone inside the store and called the catalog department to let them know there was a customer waiting to be served.
Like an army of ants, here they came. That’s the best dime she ever spent for a phone call.
I bought my first 10-speed bicycle at Sears, a red, white and blue Free Spirit model, in September 1972 using money I had earned on my paper route.
I still have most my Sears Craftsman tools that I received in 1978 as a high school graduation gift. I also have a 70s model Sears shop vacuum that still works more than 40-years later. It needs a new vacuum hose. They don’t build them like that anymore.
We also bought many items from J.C. Penneys and Montgomery Wards.
There was a Montgomery Wards catalog outlet less than a mile from my boyhood home. My mom bought a gas-powered weed trimmer there for my dad in the late 60s.
I still own a Timex watch that my great-grandmother bought for me when I was age 7 at Montgomery Wards. It still works.
I bought my first VCR at J.C. Penneys. I still buy clothes from J.C. Penneys nowadays.
Shopping on-line is handy, but I miss the days of the giant retail outlets. At least I still have the memories. And I can make a tasty batch of popcorn as I order on-line.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.