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Offering information and fun for the appliance repair industry and interested do-it-yourselfers since 2013.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kelly's Korner - Montgomery Wards

Hey, All,

I was helping my mom pack up some stuff in anticipation of her move and came across an old Montgomery Ward credit card with my name on it!  For many, this name is a blast from the past, but we here in the appliance business still hear it every day.

Just a bit of history gleaned from various sites on the internet:  Montgomery Ward was founded in 1872 by Aaron Montgomery Ward who wanted to provide people in rural areas with goods they couldn't get locally.  Sold through the catalogs he put out, people could buy farm machinery, household goods, appliances, clothes and many other things and pick them up at the train station or post office.  The retail stores started opening in 1926, and through many ups and downs over the years, was one of the leading retailers along with Sears and Macy's and others. 

Did you know that Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a creation by a Wards employee, Robert L. May (don't know if he was a relation to the founder of W. L. May) as a Christmas promotion in 1939?

In 1985 the company closed its catalog business after 113 years!  I well remember waiting in anticipation as a child for the Christmas "Wish Book" to come.  My sisters and I would pore over it for hours making our Christmas lists for Santa.

Then, with the advent of more and more retail stores like Walmart, Target, and Kmart, business was sinking fast and on December 8, 2000 Montgomery Ward announced that is was going out of business.  My mom had only worked for them for 13-14 years but she was there at the Mall 205 store right till the bitter end.

For us in the appliance business, Montgomery Ward is still an everyday name.  Wards had bought appliances from the leading manufacturers like Maytag, Frigidaire and others and put their name and own model numbers on them - just like Sears does - and we get calls from people whose machines are still running.  And, yes, we still can get many parts for these.

It is really bittersweet for us older folk who remember the stores and catalogs to have seen this business close and other businesses that have been around for decades - Nordstrom's and Radio Shack have announced they are closing a bunch of their stores.  Sad to see icons fall.

Anyway, we here at W L May are still going strong after 90+ years and hope to be here for at least another 90 more!

Have a great week!

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