Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Sears Catalog

Most people today don't remember the Sears Catalog. Think of, put into a book and mailed to your doorstep. Or picked up in the store. This was a 1970's version of internet buying.

If you can imagine that, the Sears Catalog had pictures and descriptions of everything you could buy in the magazine/book. It was a couple of inches thick and you could order things over the phone or by mail (US Mail, not email.)

There's a story of a company that moved a plant into Mexico. This was before outsourcing was "popular", so ignore the negative connotations associated with it in this case. The company paid their Mexican workers a small amount compared to US workers, but an ENORMOUS amount on the Mexican pay scale.

The problem they had was that many workers would quit after their first paycheck. They had never before seen that much money at one time and couldn't imagine needing more, so they just didn't show up the following day.

After much consternation, the company came up with a good idea. Next payday, with every paycheck, they gave each employee a Sears Catalog. The following day, every employee returned to work, ready to make more money and order from the Sears Catalog.

The moral of this story? I'll let you decide, either from an individual viewpoint, the viewpoint of the company or even the viewpoint from Sears. Comments are welcome.

Now where did I place that catalog....


Neil said...

One of my earliest childhood memories is of waiting for those catalogs to come and coveting nearly every toy in there. Not a good trait! The Mexico story is telling.

Randy said...

Coveting is such a strong word... maybe thinking about how much the toy could enhance your life, but coveting? Say it ain't so!

Of course, I was never guilty of that....

Kayte E. said...

I'm glad that we don't have Sears Catalogs anymore (although ours was Brendle's) And I only remember it coming out close to Christmas and us going through the book page by page "I want this, no wait, this, no wait, this..."
I'm now trying to teach my sweet girl to be content for what she has (ideas welcome) because every couple of hours I hear "I wish I had one of those ___________."
As for the moral of the story, from a business standpoint that was genus. "How do we keep our employees and make them see the value of the money they are earning? Oh, I know, show them what they can get with that money." From a consumer standpoint it shows how greed can so easily entice us. "I HAVE to have that!" But at least it helps the economy, right?

Randy said...

I suspect you're to young to remember the real Sears Catalog, although they came out with some specialty catalogs (Craftsman tools). JC Penney also had catalogs. I remember the Brendles catalogs very well.

And I think you're right, good for business, bad for the individual. Isn't that like Amazon today?