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Old 07-14-2014, 10:37 AM   #21
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At one time Sears sold 1% of US GDP.

I used to work for Sears as an appliance repairman. All I knew to repair was the Sears washer and dryer, which was made by Whirlpool. Even though that's all I could repair, at one time I could fix the washers/dryers in 1/2 homes in US.
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Old 07-14-2014, 05:53 PM   #22
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Nothing to do with catalog biz....
The face of Pharma companies has changed drastically over the last 3 decades. When I started selling pharmaceuticals in 1981 there were many smaller companies that had one or more niche products that most/many Drs used. It got you in the door and you often talked to the true decision maker. It was a great job for a young motivated person! Over the years the bigger companies bought out the smaller, over and over. Now we have a few pharm companies that have full lines of drugs and vaccines. These companies battle for sales/prescriptions in every clinic. What was once an enjoyable and satisfying job is truly "dog eat dog" experience now. I loved my career for about the first 18 years after that it was all down hill

I feel fortunate to have been in the industry before all the consolidation.
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Old 07-14-2014, 06:09 PM   #23
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Imoldernu,

If it is any consolation I rented 30,000 sq ft of the MW building on the Chicago River in 2007 to house a new division for my former employer. Great building, great location. Lot of history in that building. They are still there in what is essentially a fully leased building.

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Old 07-14-2014, 06:27 PM   #24
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We bought a lot of stuff at Wards. Sears was a long way off so we never went there, MW was 10 minutes away at Wheaton Plaza in MD. When it opened it was supposed to be one of the top ten largest shopping centers in the country. My Mom worked there briefly before she went to a federal govt. job.

Dad liked to work on cars and bought all the tools, oil, etc. he could there. Most of my clothes and much of our furniture came from there. The photo is of a 3/4 inch drive ratchet that I inherited, I forgot what we bought that monster for but the 1/2 inch drive line did not have the large socket we needed.
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File Type: jpg MW_wrench-1.jpg (91.2 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg MW_wrench-2.jpg (94.7 KB, 13 views)
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Old 07-14-2014, 06:42 PM   #25
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I never bought anything off MW's catalogs, but remember that we still did a bit of shopping at MW in the early 80s. Then, we stopped, but I did not now why or how. There were many smaller department stores that went defunct over the years. How and why? There were some stores that I did not like such as Kmart, but many other stores I did not have an aversion to, just not a compelling reason to go there.

About employers going defunct, I did not work for any that closed doors, but two of my former aerospace megacorps were taken over. Their proud heritage was buried and forgotten. I am still a bit sentimental about that.
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Old 07-14-2014, 07:03 PM   #26
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I never bought anything off MW's catalogs, but remember that we still did a bit of shopping at MW in the early 80s. Then, we stopped, but I did not now why or how. There were many smaller department stores that went defunct over the years. How and why? There were some stores that I did not like such as Kmart, but many other stores I did not have an aversion, just not a compelling reason to go there.

About employers going defunct, I did not work for any that closed doors, but two of my former aerospace megacorps were taken over. Their proud heritage was buried and forgotten. I am still a bit sentimental about that.
In 1993, we were designing and building a launch pad for General Dynamics Space Systems, when they were bought by Martin Marietta. Less than a year later when we were just barely starting construction, in mid-1994, MM merged with Lockheed to form Lockheed-Martin. In the short 3yr+/- life of our project, we had three customers.

But, our direct customers were great, and the project was a success.
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:08 PM   #27
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Comforting to see that some remember my old company...
... and the Chicago Offices location...
A little more nostalgia here...
My promotion to Chicago, on the 19th floor of the "New" tower building came two days before New Years... I knew nothing about Cabrini Green (low cost housing development) at the time, but my office overlooked the complex. (A rough neighborhood)

When I came back to my office, the day after New Years Day, I placed my new briefcase on my desk and noticed what I thought was sand.. on the desk, and on the credenza that backed to the 8' X 10' glass ceiling to floor window.

Not sand... splintered glass, from the bullet hole near the top of the window...
Maintenance replaced the glass the same day, but the best part came on the next morning, when I came in and found 4'square paper target, taped to the new window... at head high level when I sat at my desk... My new secretary and her friends' way of welcoming me to the new job.
.................................................. ..............................

I still have a full set of PowrCraft tools, as well as many of our 'house branded' appliances etc... Good products... all by the major manufacturers.
.................................................. ..............................
A strange thing... Going to Wikipedia, very little about the actual catalog operation... no mention of the 1700 franchises, or the 300to500 company owned catalog outlets and service stations... In total, at one time, just in the field operations as many as 20,000+ employees. Also, except for the several links supplied by members, here... almost lost generations.
.................................................. ..............................
And Sears... Where I spent the first 6 years after the army, as a catalog store manager in Chelsea Ma, Vineyard Haven Ma, Claremont NH, and Falmouth Ma... before going to MW as a D.M.
.................................................. ..............................

Both good companies, and in the worker friendly atmosphere at the time... we called our company "Mother".... When Human Resources was called "Personnel" and younger management members were assigned "mentors" to oversee their career progress.
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:40 PM   #28
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Well, imoldernu, my departed mom worked for Monkey Wards. All her time there was remembered fondly. She became good friends with her boss and stayed friends with him and his wife until they passed.

Mom worked for them in the late 40s and through the 50s. She was a women working with men. She was given huge responsibilities and mom always said she never felt "put down" as a woman. Think about this, the early 50s!

Mom was a bookkeeper in payroll and started working with IBM calculating machines. They had to WIRE them to program them. MW was a the front of technology and mom later programmed IBM 650 computers in a pseudo machine language. This was before what we would call "real programming" even existed.

Mom eventually quit to raise the kids. If she had stuck with it, she would have been a woman computer pioneer. Too bad.

Man, you really struck up some memories. My first real bicycle was from Wards. I remember many a day shopping with Mom.
Thanks, Joe...
Something here that shouldn't go unsaid... My first MW District had 7 out of 13 Catalog Store Managers who were Ladies... mostly in their 50's and 60's.
Me, barely 30, and new to this much responsibility. Bless them all... they could have torn me to shreds, but rather adopted me, and worked so hard (above and beyond) that in my first year with the company became the District Manager of the Year in Albany. That memory would stand me in good stead throughout my career...
We were well known for having great women managers, and while I couldn't say it out loud, when the Mobil group came in, the worst thing they did, was to put pressure on, to change to male managers... "better salesmen", "stronger managers", "harder workers".... NOT!!!...
Our turnover, company wide in Catalog Stores, was almost zero for women managers. They also knew how to bring dollars to the bottom line. A different time, perhaps, but if.... doing it all over again, no question that for that small town based business... The ladies would be my choice.
I remember each and every one... names, faces, and personalities... Big part of my life.
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:51 PM   #29
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Both good companies, and in the worker friendly atmosphere at the time... we called our company "Mother".... When Human Resources was called "Personnel" and younger management members were assigned "mentors" to oversee their career progress.
My mother's cousin's husband (pardon the complicated genealogy) worked for Sears in those days. I'm not sure just what he did, but the impression I got from the folks was that he had enviable career security -- and Dad was a postal clerk! Back then you needed a second job if you worked for the PO.
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:23 PM   #30
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My mother's cousin's husband (pardon the complicated genealogy) worked for Sears in those days. I'm not sure just what he did, but the impression I got from the folks was that he had enviable career security -- and Dad was a postal clerk! Back then you needed a second job if you worked for the PO.
RE: Security...
My first job was in Providence RI, early 1960... as a management trainee... The salesman in the suit department was retiring... His Sears Profit Sharing totaled $300,000.
That would equal about $2.4 Million today.

It was a sad day, when business turned away from profit sharing. It could still be a solution for America... Try Louis Kelso, The Capitalist Manifesto, Binary Economics, CESJ or The Just Third Way


A seamless, almost painless change from greed and corruption, to a sustainable economy.
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Old 07-14-2014, 10:46 PM   #31
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RE: Security...
My first job was in Providence RI, early 1960... as a management trainee... The salesman in the suit department was retiring... His Sears Profit Sharing totaled $300,000.
That would equal about $2.4 Million today.

It was a sad day, when business turned away from profit sharing. It could still be a solution for America... Try Louis Kelso, The Capitalist Manifesto, Binary Economics, CESJ or The Just Third Way


A seamless, almost painless change from greed and corruption, to a sustainable economy.
It's a complicated transition ... many large businesses back then were controlled by individuals or other large interests. They often considered employees part of an extended family, or they sought peace with powerful unions.

Ownership in the modern corporate economy is much more "democratic," with the bulk of shares controlled by institutions such as large pension funds and investment firms holding millions of individual retirement accounts. The focus has turned to quarterly reports and short-term profit as account managers try to maximize return ... that's their job.

Unfortunately, the investment groups seek little influence in how companies are run. They leave that to the CEOs, whose primary mandate is to keep the investment institutions happy. The investment firms are easy to please as long as the profits roll in.The people at the bottom of the food chain -- street-level employees -- become the corporate cannon fodder.

If an investment firm sought to use its shareholder clout to take on a more activist role in corporate governance, or limit its investments to more employee-friendly companies, I would certainly consider putting my money in its mutual funds. I don't see a lot of options there, though.
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Old 07-15-2014, 08:40 AM   #32
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We were well known for having great women managers, and while I couldn't say it out loud, when the Mobil group came in, the worst thing they did, was to put pressure on, to change to male managers... "better salesmen", "stronger managers", "harder workers".... NOT!!!...
Our turnover, company wide in Catalog Stores, was almost zero for women managers. They also knew how to bring dollars to the bottom line. A different time, perhaps, but if.... doing it all over again, no question that for that small town based business... The ladies would be my choice.
I remember each and every one... names, faces, and personalities... Big part of my life.
I remember my mom talking to her old boss at social events in the late 70's doing nothing but complaining about Mobile! He hung on for dear life to retire, which he did in the early 80s.

The Mobile purchase of Wards should be a study in all business schools about the dangers of going into a completely orthogonal business.
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Old 07-15-2014, 10:15 AM   #33
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At one time Sears sold 1% of US GDP.

I used to work for Sears as an appliance repairman. All I knew to repair was the Sears washer and dryer, which was made by Whirlpool. Even though that's all I could repair, at one time I could fix the washers/dryers in 1/2 homes in US.
I am grateful to Sears for employing me 3 summers in a row doing vacuum cleaners, small engines and general automotive mechanic w*rk, in that order. They gave me M-F daytime hours so I could get a second job on weekends. I was paid very well, exactly the same as the other entry level guys. No issues about me being a woman. Time frame was 1977-1979.
It was known up front that I was a full time college student and would not w*rk for them after graduation.
Now that was good community policy, to employ up and coming starving college students.

Thank you, Sears!
All my personal tools are Craftsman brand.
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Old 07-15-2014, 03:26 PM   #34
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Wow, That picture of the store in Albany brings back great memories form the 50's!! We lived across the river in Troy when I was a young lad. Shopping in that store was always a treat! As I remember it the store was HUGE! My Mom used to let me wander and we'd meet up at a specific time.

That was a simpler time!
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Old 07-15-2014, 04:25 PM   #35
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+1 on working for Sears, back then anyway. I did heating & A/C repairs. It started out as a summer job "gofer" for the techs because often it took two people to move a window A/C out of the window or wall mount. I took some service manuals home and read them, the next summer they were short on techs and started me out doing parts calls where someone else had to order a part.

They also knew I wasn't going to stay when I finished school and did in fact send me to a two-week school on furnaces about a month before I got "The Call" and quit. I did feel bad about the timing on that, they didn't pay much but otherwise it was a good place to work.

When I started the service trucks didn't even have a second seat let alone seat belts. I sat on the engine cover of those old Ford Econoline vans. Can you say liability had we been in a wreck? It would be almost certain I'd have been severely injured if I survived at all. I never gave it a thought. 20-year-olds are invincible.
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Old 07-16-2014, 12:39 PM   #36
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When I started the service trucks didn't even have a second seat let alone seat belts. I sat on the engine cover of those old Ford Econoline vans. Can you say liability had we been in a wreck? It would be almost certain I'd have been severely injured if I survived at all. I never gave it a thought. 20-year-olds are invincible.
With the ultra short nose on those Econolines, you were truly the first person on the scene of an accident.
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:05 PM   #37
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There are many companies that go out of business all the time...
I held way too many j*bs back in the 70s, and most of those businesses didn't make it into the 80s, the result of two oil embargoes, a recession or two, the high costs inherent in smaller, standalone businesses, etc.
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:05 PM   #38
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.................................................. ..............................
A strange thing... Going to Wikipedia, very little about the actual catalog operation... no mention of the 1700 franchises, or the 300to500 company owned catalog outlets and service stations... In total, at one time, just in the field operations as many as 20,000+ employees. Also, except for the several links supplied by members, here... almost lost generations.
Sounds like a good project for you to work on - remember anyone can edit Wikipedia articles! Wikipedia:Plain and simple - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Go for it!
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:25 PM   #39
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I was shocked when Montgomery Ward went under. They were huge. If my memory is correct, I believe I got my wedding shoes and going-away dress from Montgomery Ward.

Now, when I think of MW, I start humming "Wells Fargo Wagon" from The Music Man. Remember that line? "Montgom'ry Ward sent me a bathtub and a cross-cut saw". MW will always be part of our culture, because of that line in that song.
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:42 PM   #40
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Since I did not grow up in the US, to me, the most iconic American brand was Pan Am. I remember the excitement of meeting my American relatives for the first time as they disembarked from a 707 at SNN in the early 60s, carrying their Pan Am bags. To my childhood eyes Pan Am represented all that was progressive and exciting about the US. When I moved to the US for training in 1986 I deliberately chose to fly Pan Am, because I wanted to get into an American frame of mind. The long and painful decline of this groundbreaking airline is retold in this hour long documentary filmed shortly after its final days. But the memories live on.

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