What Happened to Holiday Catalogs?

 

I check the mailbox. Nothing. OK … bills. It used to be filled with holiday catalogs. There was Vermont Country Store, with old-time candies, colognes like “Evening in Paris,” flannel pajamas, ornaments and decorations from yesteryear, like those bubble lights and waxed angel candles. They still sell board games for families like Life and Candy Land, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Bavarian wooden weather houses, where the man would come out if rain was coming and the woman if a sunny day was predicted. Then there’s LL Bean with warm scarfs and cozy slippers! I loved the Trappist Monks who remind you about their delicious jams, coffee, and fudge, along with a CD of Gregorian chants or holiday choruses. There’s Harry & David, with the delectable pears, fruitcakes, Moose Munch, chocolate popcorn and chutneys.

I used to be bombarded with these catalogs every year, like Lands End who sent coupons, which always equaled a purchase from me. I’m easy, but I like to see the merchandise. There’s nothing in the mailbox this year. I asked my sister if she’s gotten any catalogs this year? Zero. What happened?

I did get a postcard from Fossil announcing Black Friday specials. It’s tucked behind the phone and I will pop in, thanks to advertising. They tell you to shop local. It boosts the economy — forget online, Amazon, the easy sitting at home at your computer shopping. Get out and mingle, have an early breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel and see what the local shops have created to inspire you. Getting in the holiday spirit requires getting up from a chair!

Does anyone remember the excitement of the arrival of the Sears Christmas Catalog? They called it “The Wish Book.” It was a big deal at our house, and as thick as a phone book. I was allowed to pick one thing. One year I picked Puppy (I thought it was a good name), a little stuffed dog with floppy ears. That’s it, I was asked? How about this fancy doll with a whole wardrobe or this cute bicycle with a basket? How about a Barbie Penthouse? No, I had to have Puppy. He came wrapped in a bow, a little tan dog with big ears, and my favorite gift ever. It’s still a great memory — and a reminder of the anticipation of the holidays.

In later years, there would be Mr. Snow Cone, Mouse Trap, and Jocko the big stuffed monkey. I never got the Barbie Dream House or Easy Bake Oven, all featured in glorious print in the Sears Catalog. I peeked in the attic alcove once (ok, many times) at the wrapped gifts, where I carefully unwrapped to see what was coming. Then I carefully resealed with the original tape and either went to bed with a smile or a frown – Yea! there was Puppy! Once, I unwrapped a glorious troll house, a suitcase-looking plastic cave for troll dolls! I loved it … except on Christmas morning the tag was to my sister! Ugh!

I feel like Charlie Brown – peeking into the mailbox but no valentines. What’s going on? Has Greta Thunberg spooked retail? Too much paper at the dump? I want my catalogs! I hope we get the post about the Ricochet Annual Christmas Card Exchange soon … I’m sick of just finding bills.

Do you order catalogs and like getting them? Are you inclined to order when you receive one? What directs your shopping habits or holiday inspiration to purchase from a particular vendor? What was your favorite toy as a child?

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  1. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I have a stack of all of those catalogs. I enjoy them too. I wonder if there is something wrong with your mailing address? I have one to three Christmas 2019 catalogs from most of the companies you’ve mentioned. 

    • #1
  2. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I have a stack of all of those catalogs. I enjoy them too. I wonder if there is something wrong with your mailing address? I have one to three Christmas 2019 catalogs from most of the companies you’ve mentioned.

    I better check with the post office?

    • #2
  3. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I have a stack of all of those catalogs. I enjoy them too. I wonder if there is something wrong with your mailing address? I have one to three Christmas 2019 catalogs from most of the companies you’ve mentioned.

    I better check with the post office?

    I would. And you might e-mail one of them to see what address they have on file. The Vermont Country Store is fantastic in responding to calls and e-mails. Harry and David is easy to deal with too. 

    • #3
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I got my Levenger, Lands End, and LL Bean this week. Vermont Country Store came last week.

    • #4
  5. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Someone is raiding your mailbox.

    • #5
  6. Dave of Barsham Member
    Dave of Barsham
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    Like everyone else we get them but they’re not one big catalog but several smaller ones from specific stores. Now that my wife and I have kids, they actually stuck around this year. Grandpa had visited and they were quick to go through and circle the stuff that they liked. I can remember a catalog when I was of that age but the one that I was really interested in was the one that had different Lego sets. My parents really didn’t have the cash on hand for the big ones but it was fun to look at them and dream of all the stuff you could make after you got done putting together the first thing with the instructions. My brother and I used to scan it looking for parts we needed to make something we had thought up.

    • #6
  7. She Member
    She
    @She

    Agree with the comments above—either someone’s pinching them before they get to you, or something’s problematic about your address.  The second option doesn’t sound all that likely, though.  Maybe the mailman just doesn’t want to carry them all.

    We’re inundated with them.  I wouldn’t mind it if there weren’t so many from the same place, it’s the one time of the year I find printed catalogs useful.  But there are just too many of them.

    • #7
  8. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Most nice catalogs have gone the way of the department stores that used to send them.  And I find it hard to get excited about catalogs from LL Bean and Lands End when I get about 25 of them every year.

    • #8
  9. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    If only someone could post all the highlights of the Sears 1986 catalog! 

    • #9
  10. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    She (View Comment):

    Agree with the comments above—either someone’s pinching them before they get to you, or something’s problematic about your address. The second option doesn’t sound all that likely, though. Maybe the mailman just doesn’t want to carry them all.

    We’re inundated with them. I wouldn’t mind it if there weren’t so many from the same place, it’s the one time of the year I find printed catalogs useful. But there are just too many of them.

    I thought you guys said “nick,” as in “someone’s nicking them betore they get to you.”

    • #10
  11. Old Buckeye Inactive
    Old Buckeye
    @OldBuckeye

    My parents used to get the Neiman-Marcus catalog and it was always interesting to see what their big ticket item of the year would be. 

    • #11
  12. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    If only someone could post all the highlights of the Sears 1986 catalog!

    Wow!

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Go get what you order from. We get REI

    • #13
  14. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    If only someone could post all the highlights of the Sears 1986 catalog!

    If anyone can do it, it’s you . . .

    • #14
  15. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Am I the only person who drools on all the food catalogs this time of year?  Heck, any time of year?

    • #15
  16. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    We are still getting them.  The other day, we got one from the “Deluth Trading Company” (for Manly men!)  The cover was a lumberjack type guy shaving with a large ax and it went on from there.  The various types of ads for men’s underwear (protect the Jingle Bells!) were particularly hilarious.

    When our oldest son was still in a crib, slipping the Sears&Roebuck tool catalog into his crib was good for an extra hour or so of sleep on a Saturday morning while he went through it.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I’m happy to not get catalogs anymore. I signed up for a service where you can tell businesses to stop sending their catalogs. Since I don’t need Christmas catalogs, either, I’m relieved not to get them. I also learned that when they start showing up again, it’s usually a one-shot effort; if you don’t buy anything, they rarely try again–except at holiday time.

    Bah humbug!

    • #17
  18. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    If only someone could post all the highlights of the Sears 1986 catalog!

    Or better yet, a Sears catalog from the 1920’s or 1930’s, when you could order a pre-fab house for 30K!

    • #18
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Sgt. Grit is a regular correspondent of mine. Ooo-rah.

    • #19
  20. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    I, too, am receiving all the many, many catalogs each day! When I was little, those Christmas catalogs from Sears, Wards, and Penney’s were THE BIG DEAL!! We’d pore over them and spend a great amount of effort on deciding just exactly what we simply HAD to have for Christmas. My mom was really good about hiding the big package that arrived with everything she’d ordered. I still wonder where that secret place was…

    We lived very far away from any of those stores–at least a two hour one-way drive–so mail order was critical. Plus, there was snow (lots & lots) on the ground from late September till mid-May, so driving was not always a reasonable plan. I remember seeing her fill out the forms for our socks, underwear, my dad’s jeans, etc. I guess she filled out the toy order when we were asleep.

    Some of my current favorite clothes are from some of the catalogs I get! I’m sure that’s why they keep inundating me.

    • #20
  21. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @BobW

     

    This year I got an Amazon catalog.

    • #21
  22. DesertDwarf Inactive
    DesertDwarf
    @DesertDwarf

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    If only someone could post all the highlights of the Sears 1986 catalog!

    Or better yet, a Sears catalog from the 1920’s or 1930’s, when you could order a pre-fab house for 30K!

    Oops. One too many zeros? My grandparents got a house (not prefab, I think) in the 30s for 3K. Here’s an example ad:

    http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/30s-homes.html

    Heck, I was born in ’67 and a nice house around that time was 30K.

    By the way, that’s a fun site to browse.

    • #22
  23. DesertDwarf Inactive
    DesertDwarf
    @DesertDwarf

    Oh my goodness. If they only knew then what we know now. This is a mailer that was sent to entice people to get the Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Catalog. (I found this picture at https://www.history.com/news/sears-catalog-houses-hubcaps.)

    • #23
  24. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    My parents built a reasonably nice house in 1973 for $23,000.

    • #24
  25. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    DesertDwarf (View Comment):

    Oh my goodness. If they only knew then what we know now. This is a mailer that was sent to entice people to get the Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Catalog. (I found this picture at https://www.history.com/news/sears-catalog-houses-hubcaps.)

     

    The modern way today is apps and on line – I’m going to shop local and pay cash – no identity theft (I did get hacked last year with my debit card – I traced to a gas station).  Looking at that picture – Life used to be so simple…

    • #25
  26. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    So far not resolved. I told the post office. I had to go in, because no one will return my call, and found out our mail person changed. Our area has grown, now her husband is our delivery person, and apparently their daughter is also helping…..I didn’t recognize anyone at the post office, the long time usual workers, and they were short staffed.  I called Lands End – they said they have been sending catalogs.  I reordered a bunch as a test to see what happens.  For some reason, bills are still delivered…..oh well.

    • #26
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