WORDS OPEN OUR WORLD
Excerpts From My Desk
Looking at the Past to Ease the Future
Inspired by a conversation with my mother
As we move forward in all the uncertainty, there is a great fear among the masses. Perhaps, it’s the middle to senior aged, since they can remember walking into a store to purchase an item. The younger generations have grown up in the online age and don’t need to acclimate.
“I’m too old to order something without trying it on first.”
Rest assured that as online access grows and the brick and mortar shopping experience dwindles, there is a connective tissue that ties this online shopping transition to the past. Like an old friend who shows up on your doorstep with a new haircut. The discomfort of not knowing is eased by a familiarity that exists, it just has to be sought out and brought into the light.
In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward produced the first mail order catalog geared to the general public. This was followed by other large names such as Hammacher Schlemmer and eventually, what might be the most famous one of all time, the Sears & Roebuck catalog. From JC Penney to Victoria Secret, long before home computing and the internet, mail order catalogs flourished. Companies like car parts giant JC Whitney made its mark on the world from between the pages of mail order catalogs.
Why did this surge in mail order catalogs grow into a multi-million-dollar business? Simple economics of supply and demand. People wanted to shop and most of them didn’t have cars. Getting down town or to a major city, to the brick and mortars, was too difficult or too time consuming. The telephone at that time made it simple to order items directly from the catalogs.
The world then saw the advent of the home computer and it was a game changer. In 1995, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s guru, opened for business. He may have been the first to see the potential online scalability of the mail order catalog. Today Jeff has taken the internet catalog well beyond its mail order predecessor, threatening the mere existence of some brick and mortar establishments.
Let’s move forward to 2020. We are all now quarantined at home and travel to the brick and mortars is not an option. The online catalog industry already has its foothold. Demand for home delivery has found its worth in a new way. Yes, there is the option to order online and drive to a store to pick up the item, but fear has gone viral. We’re in lockdown and the only way to shop safely is via the internet catalog. The term “internet catalog” does not sound common, but a look at the myriad of shopping websites where you can buy just about anything looks a great deal like a digital version of a Sears and Roebuck catalog. Everything you could ever want is in one place.
“I never thought I would have to do this in my lifetime.”
For all who are fighting the online catalog shopping reality, it might sit on your pallet a bit easier if you make the correlation that as child you may have watched your parents or grandparents place orders from mail order catalogs. If you’re old enough, you may have placed a phone order from a mail order catalog yourself. A feeling of nostalgia could replace the angst you feel about having to shop online. Truth is that making purchases via an online catalog, takes less effort than the mail order catalogs ever did. One more fact that might help take the edge off of online catalog shopping is that while mail order catalog items took weeks to show up, today most online orders are on your doorstep in seven days or less.
As the new world might bring many fears with it, shopping doesn’t have to be one of them. This time looking to the past can ease the transition to the future. It’s like riding a bicycle. You never forget, you just need to practice a bit in the beginning. By the way, you can buy a bicycle online too.
For more on the history of mail order catalogs visit
Thank you for visiting my website. If you have questions about anything on the site or about being an author, let me know. If you need help creating you next masterpiece I might be able to help.
Happy writing and reading!
Green Haven, a novel
ADVANCE COPIES ARE NOW AVAILABLE
(click on the Green Haven header at the top of this page)
Director of Nursing, Cathy Arden’s complacent life is about to change as she discovers Green Haven’s residents are suddenly dying at an alarming rate. She is determined to prove something is wrong, and her efforts have inadvertently placed her in the crosshairs. Who can she trust as the killer may be working right beside her?
Guilt-ridden owner, Oscar Green’s vision is simple: create a place where wealthy senior citizens can live their final days in the comfort to which they have become accustomed. On the outside, the ultra-luxury of Green Haven seems like heaven on earth, but Green Haven is not the idyllic nursing home it appears to be.
Detective Oaks sets his sights on Cathy as all the evidence points to her. He is intent on bringing her to justice. Desperate, but unwilling to give up, Cathy is forced to place others at risk to find out who the real killer is and point detective Oaks in the right direction. If she fails, more will die and Cathy’s new long-term home will be a prison cell.
Green Haven is a perfect place for the rich and forgotten. Perhaps it’s also the perfect place for a serial killer.
Something a bit different this month. Please share this important information.
Pirie Associates Architects is Helping Change the Educational Physical Environment
Get In Touch
I want to hear what you have to say.
Perhaps you have an idea for a book, article or blog and need some help getting started, or you're stuck, get in touch with me. I would love to help or share what I have learned. If you're interested in having me lecture please let me know.