Archive | Sears and the Golden Age of Catalog Ordering

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Archives | Sears and the golden age of catalog orders

Sears catalog of the year 1974.

January 14, 2018 marks the end of a long chapter in the history of retail in the country. The last Sears stores are officially closing. Generations of Canadians shopped at what was first called Simpsons-Sears. Our archives look back on the history of this pioneering catalog shopping company.

An American company from Chicago born in 1925, Sears arrived in Canada in 1952. Established in several Canadian cities , Sears stores will become a symbol of the middle class and suburban development.

In the 1950s, Sears teamed up with the Simpsons company, which had developed catalog sales as early as 1893. The department stores would be known as Simpsons-Sears for several years before simply adopting the Sears name.

In 1978, The Bay bought the Simpsons stores, ending the Simpsons-Sears partnership. The name Simpsons disappears.

On May 12, 1974 on the show Lafleche du temps, journalist Paul-Émile Tremblay lends himself to the game of ordering by computer-assisted catalog.

Report by Paul-Émile Tremblay “The computer and the catalog” which tests the experiment currently being conducted at Simpsons Sears Ltd. in Toronto, collaboration with IBM and Bell Canada, which allows a customer to call from home directly to a computer to order an item from the home catalog.

This experiment, conducted by Simpsons Sears Ltd. in Toronto, in collaboration with IBM and Bell Canada, illustrates the increasingly important presence of the computer in the lives of Canadians.

During the 1970s and 1980s, catalog sales experienced significant growth in large cities and their suburbs. It would remain popular until the late 1990s.

As the journalist explains, in the early 1900s, catalog orders were more reserved for populations far from major centers.

In some regions, the catalog was the main store. We made almost everything come by order: televisions, appliances, gardening tools, furniture, toys, clothing, bedding, decoration, tools…

Many will remember the special catalog Dream Gifts which arrived a few weeks before the holiday season.

Report by Christine Saint-Pierre on the cut of 50,000 jobs at Sears in the United States. Sears Canada is not affected. The example of a Sears counter in a dry cleaning business. The newscast is hosted by Simon Durivage.

In Montreal tonightJanuary 25, 1993, journalist Christine Saint-Pierre presents a report that reports the cuts of 50,000 jobs at Sears in the United States and the end of catalog sales in our American neighbors. A shock that is not felt in Canada, as evidenced by Léo Boucher who runs a Sears order counter in his dry cleaning business.

In the early 1990s, we has 1500 counters like that of Léo Boucher.

In 1999, Sears acquired Eaton for $50 million. Eaton which, for more than a century, had Simpsons as its main competitor.

But from the 2000s, Sears will suffer a decline.

Although Sears was a pioneer in catalog sales, it has not been able to fully adapt to the new era of online shopping.

“On the verge of bankruptcy, Sears Canada thus becomes the latest victim of the long agony of retail. »

— Geneviève Asselin

On June 22, 2017, journalist Guylaine Bussière interviews a few consumers following the announcement of the closure of 59 stores and the loss of 2,900 jobs in Canada.

Report by Guylaine Bussière about the closure of many Sears stores in Canada, a new harbinger of the decline of this company. The news bulletin is hosted by Geneviève Asselin.

The journalist explains that the store's clientele has not been renewed over the years.

“It's a part of our past that is disappearing. Sears is almost an institution. I have always known Sears. ”

— Client

A few months later, in October 2017, Sears Canada obtained court authorization to sell its last assets. The company is laying off an additional 12,000 employees.

Sears had drawn several criticisms, in particular for having paid millions in bonuses to its leaders while many former employees saw their pension plans cut. The last stores are closing in January 2018.

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