National Mail Order Catalog Day – August 18, 2022

National Mail Order Catalog Day takes place on August 18 every year. This holiday is all about recalling the days when mail-order catalogs were a common marketing strategy for businesses and corporations. A mail-order catalog is a form of direct marketing approach that allows firms to engage directly with their customers. A catalog is a document that lists all of the products that a business or company sells. The catalog also includes the prices for such things. Some believe that this holiday commemorates the anniversary of the day in 1872 when Aaron Montgomery, an American entrepreneur, sent out the first modern mail-order catalog to people in Chicago.

History of National Mail Order Catalog Day

Shopping by mail has a long history. One of the first shopping catalogs, according to experts, was created in the fifteenth century. In 1498, an Italian publisher named Aldus Pius Manutius of Venice published several works through his Aldine Press.

The first 17th gardening catalog was published in 1667 by William Lucas of England. In 1744, Benjamin Franklin, a world-renowned scientist, was among the first in America to produce a catalog for purchasing books and scientific publications.

Mail-order shopping became popular in the United States in the early 19th century. During this time, book publishers and farmers began to sell their books and seeds across the country using the newly established national postal service and expanded railway infrastructure. Then, in the 20th century, mail-order catalogs became immensely popular in a variety of industries.

The first catalog was printed on a single sheet of paper measuring 8 by 12 inches. Ward used it to list the items for sale, as well as a pricing list and ordering information. The Montgomery Ward’s single-page list of products quickly grew into a 540-page illustrated book with over 20,000 items sold. It didn’t take long for other retailers to pick up on Montgomery Ward’s idea. Richard Warren Sears, a well-known merchant, mailed his catalog in 1887. Catalog sales increased as more people entered the field and by 1971, sales for major U.S. corporations had surpassed $250 million in postal revenue.

According to the National Mail Order Association, Aaron Montgomery Ward didn’t invent the mail order catalog. Though, within the United States, Benjamin Franklin is thought to have invented the first fundamental postal order concept. He created a catalog to offer scientific and academic literature. Online platforms have largely replaced mail-order catalogs in recent years. In addition, the term “mail-order” has been replaced by “online shopping.”

National Mail Order Catalog Day timeline

1498
The Birth of the Catalog

Aldus Pius Manutius publishes the first catalog ever.

1744
The Mail Order Concept Invention

Most people are familiar with Benjamin Franklin's Kite experiment or the development of the Lightning rod; however, this year, he invents the postal order industry.

1830s
The Mail Order Pioneers

Mail-order catalogs become more widely recognized as seed and nurserymen are the first businesses to embrace mail order in the contemporary sense.

1872
The Emergence of the Mail Order Business

Aaron Montgomery Ward establishes the world's first mail-order firm; his first catalog is only one page long and comprises approximately 162 products.

National Mail Order Catalog Day FAQs

Do stores still send catalogs?

The good news is that many stores are still mailing out free catalogs. Whether you’re looking for free catalogs to hunt for something to buy or acquire ideas for your next project, there will always be the right catalogs out there for you to request and wait for to arrive in your mailbox.

How do I get on a catalog mailing list?

If you sign up for a company’s mailing program, you can get on a catalog mailing list. Companies can also obtain your name and address from partners that regard you as a prospect. They can also obtain this information from establishments you’ve visited and websites that do not adequately protect your contact information.

What is the significance of the mail order catalog?

A mail-order catalog is a booklet that contains a list of a company’s general items. Cataloguers are companies that publish and operate mail-order catalogs in the industry. They purchase or create things and then sell them to prospective customers.

National Mail Order Catalog Day Activities

  1. Order something from a mail catalog

    As one way to honor this day, you can order anything from a mail-order catalog. Even though mail-order catalogs have declined in popularity, certain companies and enterprises continue to publish them.

  2. Look for vintage mail-order catalogs

    Look for vintage mail-order catalogs at your local thrift store or flea market. Businesses have spent a significant amount of money to design the ideal catalogs to increase sales. Looking through old mail-order catalogs is a great way to get a sense of life in the past.

  3. Take the celebration online

    You can also celebrate this day online, for example, on social media. You can use the hashtag #MailOrderCatalogDay to notify your friends and followers that you are also celebrating this day. You may also post a picture of a postal catalog that you have at home or that you bought at a thrift store.

5 Fascinating Facts About Mail Order Catalogs

  1. The oldest mail-order company

    Hammacher Schlemmer is the oldest mail-order company and is currently still in operation.

  2. It engages people

    Through their stories and pictures, catalogs take readers on a journey, and as a result, they promote more contact with retailers and their products.

  3. Significant to U.S. history

    Americans fell in love with this marketing strategy as it allowed them to get things they needed delivered straight to their door

  4. It’s even cheaper than you thought

    A mail-order firm requires only a little amount of capital to start and run — there's no need to stockpile a large number of products.

  5. Super popular in the 19th century

    Several U.S. retailers established themselves as mail-order businesses since this method allowed them to reach more customers and rapidly scale sales.

Why We Love National Mail Order Catalog Day

  1. Catalogs influence purchase decisions

    Do you know that catalogs have a greater influence on purchasing decisions than the internet or television commercials? 72% of people in a recent survey said catalogs piqued their interest in a retailer's products, and 80% said they bought something after seeing it in a catalog. According to the Data and Marketing Association (D.M.A.), this is because "whereas online marketing is passive, direct mail is active." Direct mailings are proactive and tactile, requiring the recipient to act on them.

  2. Bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds

    Amazing things can happen when paper and images collide. Mail-order catalogs provide the ideal physical foundation for incorporating dynamic digital technologies such as augmented reality (A.R.), dynamic Q.R. codes, near field communication (N.F.C), and many others. These technologies can help you create interactive experiences that jump off the page, guiding customers to memorable brand experiences as well as digital properties, such as websites, mobile apps, and social media.

  3. Increase reputation and visibility

    A high-quality, engaging printed catalog will increase the brand and visibility of your organization. A catalog will introduce your firm to consumers who were previously unaware of its existence and demonstrate that you can provide the items they seek. When you invest in a catalog, it communicates to others that you are serious and intend to stay for a longer-term.

National Mail Order Catalog Day dates

YearDateDay
2022August 18Thursday
2023August 18Friday
2024August 18Sunday
2025August 18Monday
2026August 18Tuesday

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