Amazon goes Sears retro—sort of

Amazon Holiday wish book

Amazon is a company I rely on regularly despite the fact I often disagree with the founder’s politics. In last week’s mail I received a print publication. I immediately thought of Sears Roebuck.

Children pay with Sears catalog 1939
“Children playing and cutting out pictures from Sears Roebuck catalogue on kitchen floor while their parents prepare dinner for the men on cornshucking day, at home of Mrs. Fred Wilkins. Tallyho, Stem, North Carolina. Granville County.” (Marion Post Wolcott, photographer; 1939. Image and caption US Library of Congress)

Admittedly there are differences between the iconic thick catalog of yore and this slimmed down Amazon print publication titled “Joy Delivered—Amazon’s Holiday Wish Book Is Here!”

This Amazon catalog features children’s toys and electronics. What makes this so interesting is the catalog has a number of pages aimed at getting children to interact with the book and presumably the products will catch the children’s attention as they come up with their Santa lists. Interspersed with product pages, there are to-do pages for children—a fill-in fable page, stickers, a maze, coloring pages and a “Create Your Own Snow Globe” page among others. At 91 pages, including the inside back cover, the book is chock full of gadgets, dolls, playhouses, ride-on toys, and anything else a child might want.

As a grandparent, I was hooked. I found several items that may be good gets for my grandchildren’s Christmas gifts. You have to go online though to see the prices. Smart.

It seemed to me Amazon is going Sears retro, sort of.

When I was young, the arrival of the annual Sears Roebuck catalog was a day for excitement. That catalog was huge, containing everything in the world you might think of. There was once even a time when Sears sold kits you could build a house from. A number of those homes still stand today, courtesy of the authentic building materials and craftsmanship of yesteryear. The New England  Historical Society has an interesting article about the value of the Sears homes today.

I don’t recall the Sears publication having pages specifically designed for children to color or fill in. However, once Christmas came and went, as the next year progressed, I do recall my mother letting us cut pictures for school projects and homemade art. Considering Sears was an integral part of many middle and working class families’ lives, it’s hard to understand how that company didn’t manage to make an Amazon-style leap from print to a combination of print-online.

I suspect this won’t be the last print promo piece I get from Amazon. Interesting that a company who is atop the cutting edge reached to the past to resurrect a print aspect of sales.

Featured Photo: Amazon’s new print catalog photographed on a patio table ordered from Amazon (chairs and cushions came from there as well). Candle holder was made by South Carolina artist Valerie Geiger Lumpkin. (Photo: Indie Art South)

(Kay B. Day/Oct. 19, 2020)

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