Mail order catalogs were precursors to online shopping | Way of life

August 18 is Mail Order Catalog Day, an annual holiday that celebrates the old way of shopping by choosing items from a printed catalog, ordering it and paying for it by mail/courier or by phone.

The unofficial holiday is believed to commemorate the anniversary of the day in 1872 when American entrepreneur Aaron Montgomery Ward sent the first modern mail order catalog to customers in Chicago.

Mail order catalogs are a type of direct marketing strategy where businesses can communicate directly and personally with customers. The catalog is a publication, much like a magazine, that lists all the items available for purchase from a business, along with their prices.

Mail order has a checkered history. Historians believe that one of the first commercial catalogs was produced at the end of the 15th century when the Italian publisher, Aidus Manutius of Venice, published a list of books that his company – Aldine Press – printed.

In 1667 William Lucas published a catalog of gardening in England, and in 1744 Benjamin Franklin became one of the first in America to print a catalog from which people could choose to purchase scientific books and publications.

Mail-order shipping did not become popular in the United States until the early 19th century, when farmers and book publishers began to take advantage of the new national postal service and an expanded railroad system to sell seed. and books all over the country.

In the 20th century, mail-order catalogs selling everything from groceries to full-fledged houses became a large part of the daily mail people received.

Today, with advances in Internet technology, print mail order catalogs are rapidly being replaced by online shopping.

However, did you know that the Hammacher Schlemmer is the oldest mail order catalog still in print today? The catalog was first printed in 1848 and sells hardware, tools and seasonal decorations. If you need a Christmas train, theirs is amazing.

Speaking of Christmas, there are only 127 shopping days left. Better to order a catalog or two and start ordering. Shelves can empty faster than you think, and then there are fewer people working to fill shelves and orders, which leaves us in a precarious position. One of our few hopes is to be the early bird who catches the worm or, in our case, that special gift.

Let me tell you, the first week of school in high school was one of the best. Most of our students were so excited to have some normalcy back. Being with their friends, sitting at a school desk and seeing their teachers in person, eating food in the cafeteria and, for Galt High, wearing crazy red and white and attending a pep rally have were the highlights of the week, then to top off the week, catch a Friday night football scrimmage.

Yes, it feels good to be back to normal.

Flower of the day: Gladiolus

Recipe of the day: Beef or chicken skewers with vegetables

Dates to remember:

August 19 – First day of school for Galt Elementary District and Oak View Elementary

September 6 – Labor Day

Until next week – Be strong, be brave and make a memory.