I love Catalogs

CatalogsThere, I said it. I know that you’ve already computed my age as being somewhere between ‘old’ and ‘ancient’ and you’re already bracing yourself for a trip down memory lane. I’m ok with my age, and this isn’t a post about how things were better back in the day. Also, you should also know that I have spent 35+ years in a career working with technology, so I am familiar with things like computers, iPads and the Internet.

One of the benefits of that career, or perhaps it’s a work-related injury of sorts is that I understand the details of technology. I understand the differences between analog and digital forms, and I know think know where digital still pales by comparison. First, let’s give digital its due.

Digital shopping works, but I would add that digital buying works much better than digital shopping. Digital buying works better than analog buying in some cases:

A few weeks ago, I was in a department store shopping for casual pants. Of all the colors and styles available, only the standard khaki-colored variety was available in the size (38×34) and style (flat front, no cuff, cuz who wants cuffs on casual pants?) A saleswoman asked if I found everything I was looking for and I explained that I had not. She said: “I can order anything you want on-line and have it shipped to you for the in-store price.

You would think that sending a truckload of pants to the store would be cheaper than sending one pair of pants to me, but I guess not. I also guess that it won’t be long before the department store closes.

Digital shopping has everything in stock. Digital shopping can save me a trip to the mall. But, digital shopping can’t let me try those pants on; you know to see if the 38 in the 38×34 is still a good number or if the 34 puts those cuff-less legs dangerously high above my shoes. Yes, I know that technology exists/is right around the corner where I can upload a picture of me and my measurements and spin myself around in those new pants. However, I won’t be able to feel the tug on my waist. Actually, my wife points out that I’m no longer wearing my pants at my waist or that my waist is no longer where it’s supposed to be, so the measurements I upload won’t be helpful to the algorithm-driven mannequin. Anyway, I’m off track. That’s in-person shopping, I was talking about catalogs.

I love catalogs because, like real books, they encourage my imagination. Digital screens require too much of my attention to let me imagine anything. I’m fighting pop-ups, paging forward and back, taking screen-shots or making a list in Evernote to keep track of the things I like. I’d rather lie on the couch, browsing from page-to-page thinking about what might be. Imagining what I could do with a tool, how a piece of furniture would feel or discovering that something heretofore unknown to me really does exist.

Heretofore not used before
I checked, that is the first time I’ve used the word “heretofore” in a blog post.

Fortunately, the people selling the stuff I most want to browse in a catalog are still sending me catalogs. Those would be tool suppliers and to be honest, they are sending those catalogs to my wife. She’s been buying me tools for a long time. She was buying from catalogs when the ‘mail’ in ‘mail-order’ still meant “to call on the phone” so she has the relationships with these companies.

I want those companies to continue sending me her catalogs, so I treat them with the respect that they deserve. If I see something in a catalog that I want, I buy it from that company. I do NOT pull out my iPad to see if that item is cheaper on Amazon. That’s not right!

Amazon wants to forever strip me of the thrill of leafing through a catalog. Amazon wants to study all the information they’ve collected about me so that they can anticipate my next purchase with precision, offer it to me “just in time” and fly it to my house by drone. That may sound like the Jetson’s to some folks but check it out, it’s not. See (if you watched the video) when Jane (his wife) leaves the flying car, she is heading to a Shopping Center.

She’s also apparently planning to pay for her purchase with cash…sigh. I get it, we couldn’t imagine the world of Internet shopping back in the 60’s. But that doesn’t mean that every old way of doing business is antiquated.

Some things got to be old because they still work!

OK, I suspect that my editor has either passed out or is checking the yard for Pods. No honey, it’s really me. It’s true, I favor the “new and improved” version of just about anything, but not when it comes at the expense of what was is a better experience. Catalogs are better than websites.

30 thoughts on “I love Catalogs

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  1. I understand. I love online purchasing, mostly from Old Navy (because 2/$5 flip flops!) and Amazon (because who would pay full price for books?) but apart from groceries, I shop online more than in the store. However, I thoroughly enjoy catalogs, and when I order from a catalog, I call. Also, I do so love the pages and dog-earing (because bibliophile) and it’s faster! — Like today, I was lookin for an old pic? So I started on my computer files, and my FB, and I was like, “Duh, photo album much faster!” LOL

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  2. Yup! Love those catalogs – even the ones for things I have no interest in, like (sorry), tools. No, no. I love your posts about tools and I love catalogs about tools. Just would never buy a tool. But when I do see something in a catalog, I buy it from the catalog.

    I also like catalogs from museum gift stores, and gardening, and art supplies, and all the tour/cruise companies.

    Where IS your waist if it’s not where it’s supposed to be? There might be a post in that …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. Museum gift store catalogs are another favorite but we don’t get many. I even like the Alumni catalog from WVU (because the website is awful). As for my waist, I guess it’s fighting a losing battle with my stomach for that middle space. The good news is that I am avoiding the hiked-up-middle-of-the-bulge look :)

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  3. Dan, nothing about loving catalogues makes you old! I too am still in love with paper catalogues. Sometimes I’ll order a catalogue from a company that I know I’ll never in a million years buy from, just because I want the pleasure of thumbing through their product pages to see what they have that I COULD maybe want to buy in a parallel universe, two hundred years in the future!

    The timing of this post couldn’t be more perfect, because just today I let out a little squeal of delight when I opened my mailbox and found a new BBC Shop catalogue. It’s sitting here next to me right now, just waiting to be perused. (Not even joking.)

    I’ve sent away for catalogues for a very long time and I just never tire of them. I don’t do a whole lot of online shopping (though I may or may not have a mild Amazon addiction…) and clothing is definitely an in-store requirement for me too (though it’s challenging living in a small town where there are practically only two stores that even carry clothes!). But nothing will ever replace, as you said, lying on the couch, browsing the pages of a paper catalogue, thinking about what might be.

    I’ll also admit that I enjoy looking through OLD catalogues (the Sears Christmas Wishbook in particular), just to see what cool things a store used to sell.

    See how much I love them? I’ve gotten all excited and now I’m babbling.

    Great post, and long live the catalogue!

    Hmm, and what is BBC Shop going to sell me today….. *gets comfortable, opens catalogue*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Wendy. I wish Sears hadn’t stopped publishing their catalog. I honestly think that was the beginning of the end for them. We still have a somewhat local Sears, but I don’t think it’s long for this world. I try to support local retailers where I can, even if the big-box down the road is a little cheaper. Of all the (tool) catalogs I get the only one with a local store is WoodCraft. I look through the catalog, or their monthly 6-pag flier and then I go to the store. We don’t get the BBC Shop catalog (that’s probably a good thing).

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  4. While Indian consumers have now adapted to the online deals trend, I still prefer the regular shopping. In fact, I started shopping online only after 2011 and I usually purchase t-shirts, nothing else. As you know I love to walk around, feel, try and search for other options, so I take some time out of my not-so-busy schedule and walk around in malls and also enjoy street shopping where I bargain and do a lot of talking with my wife Sarah before I buy anything. Online shopping is quick, but it does not give me the real pleasure of shopping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever shopped in a market where you could bargain. I guess some people do with some of the larger city street vendors, but it’s not common here. It sounds interesting. I only do online shopping as a last resort and then I usually ask my wife to order something for me. Thanks for dropping by.

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  5. Dan, try Lands End. I bought two pairs of trousers (pants are underwear over here) from them recently on the Internet. I ordered my exact leg length but two sizes of waist. When they came, one fitted better than the other so I sent the too large pair back. Four days later I received an exact copy of the returned pair in the better waist measurement. Brilliant. Oh, and do you remember when we first met in Cincinnati – I needed a pair of jeans that were out of stock in the UK. They arranged for a pair to be sent from their US operation directly to my hotel!

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    1. Thanks David. I have many items of clothing from Lands End in my closet. For a while, they were a standard supplier of dress shirts, but their styles have drifted away from the dull and boring stuff that I like. I don’t think I’ll ever forget Cincinnati. One of my favorite parts was when you bought the printer and then threw it away because that was cheaper than renting one for three days from the conference. The steak on the riverboat, the waitress, the sports bar in the hotel…that was a great trip. Why were we there?

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  6. I used to subscribe to oodles of catalogs…all my favorite stores, but I had a nasty habit of hording them so I cleaned them all out and stopped subscribing to most of them. Now I get a few favorites that I do order from. Mostly fashion/clothes catalogs, but I also get a craftsy one, and a couple of travel ones, and the BHPhoto store’s catalog I love receiving, and going through it.

    Brick & Mortar stores may just become catalog stores/return centers like the old Green Stamps stores that I only vaguely remember. Malls indoor, outdoor, and strip were making them obsolete in my childhood.

    I can’t order shoes online. I have to try them on. It will be awful not having a real shoe stores nearby and only order via online or catalog. I’d be forever receiving, and returning. My UPS guy would hate me! :)

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  7. For the most part, I’m quite content with online shopping. I have an aversion to shopping centers and the miles required to get to and from. But the first thing I noticed in this post was the Lee Valley catalog. My dad used to subscribe in the 70’s. As far as I recall, he never ordered anything, he just enjoyed leafing through the pages. So did I – and I was in my early teens. Now, I’m not into tools or gadgets or hardware, but I was completely taken by the images in this magazine. I can only suggest that the art editors knew what they were doing. I subscribed to the magazine until just a few years ago when I moved and didn’t bother to change address. Now I shop Lee Valley online.

    BTW, “heretofore” is a word that bears repeating. I look forward to reading it here, again! ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love browsing the Lee Valley catalog and we do shop online. The catalog helps me to decide what I want to buy and it’s so much more enjoyable than paging around the website. The carry the best tools and the Veritas tools that they make/own/not sure are really amazing. Also, on the rare occasions when we have had a problem, they will take returns and they will actually talk to you about what was wrong. One time, they even altered the product and send replacement parts. Thanks for reading and commenting and for encouraging “heretofore” :)

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  8. Catalogs are cool. I love them too. I don’t order through catalogs but I don’t shop online either. Except for the books I don’t find in a bookstore, which unfortunately happens more and more often. Catalogs make us dream, you’re right. When I was a kid growing up in a small French town catalogs opened a window on Paris fashion trends. I remember cutting through their pages to create my own style and ask my mom for this or that.
    Now when the mail arrives in our mailbox, there are rarely postcards or personal letters, mostly bills and junk. I threw the junk away but always keep the catalogs and like in the old days, when I was a little girl, I turn the pages of the glossy paper and dream of another dress or sofa or just imagine the remodeling of our kitchen. Sounds old fashionned to my kids who barely give catalogs a glance but they remind me of a slower pace of life. Like you I love what high tech tools offer us but I still prefer a paper page to a screen page when it comes to dreams.
    Another good post, Dan.

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    1. Thanks Evelyne. I was always focused on tools. Whether it was my mother of my wife, I always seem to be on the “you can’t wear that (item) to that (event)” when it comes to fashion. I found an old friend online, but instead of reaching out through email, I sent a letter to his business address. He said that he was so pleased to receive an actual piece of mail that it made his day. I do read some e-Content, but I prefer paper.

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  9. Dan, you are too funny. I still prefer paper over a computer, but catalogs were something I never got into. I don’t know why. And as for stocking the shelves at stores, I’ve noticed how bare things have gotten. I went to a store just the other day to buy a white purse, and could not find one, not even one. Say what? I instead bought a really pretty PINK purse, and I grinned as I thought to myself, “Ah, now LadyPinkRose has a PINK purse! Perfect!” But in all honesty, stores some day will be nonexistent, at least some. I’ve seen so many close now as it is because on internet shopping. I also have a confession. I really do like Amazon. BUT! I am not led my the nose with their suggestions as what I need. Good grief! I can make up my own mind, thank you! Great post, truly enjoyed reading, so again I do thank you. Love, Amy

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    1. Thanks Amy. Some of the recent articles about the way Amazon treats their warehouse employees makes me sad to think that I am supporting that culture, but sometimes there simply is no (or very few) alternative. I’m a little scared about the time when the few surviving mega-online-sites are the only places to buy stuff. I like little stores who often have items that you just don’t see anywhere else.

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      1. I agree, Dan. I didn’t know what you said about Amazon and now darn it, I will think twice about buying from there. It’s the principal of the matter. So much has changed since the computer, and yes so much is being lost because of it. I remember the days I could not believe I could actually order something online and have it delivered to my house. Or email …. I was stunned to think I could get an immediate reply. Now all this we just take for granted, and the days I am speaking of were not that far in the distant past. xx Amy

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        1. I don’t know if everything I’ve read is true, but some of these places are way more focused on containing costs than they are treating employees fairly. I for one would be willing to pay a little more and not have places like WalMart and McDonald’s putting public assistance forms in their employee break rooms. One of the things that will probably end up as its own post is how places like Staples and Office Max drove almost all independent stationary stores out of business. I really miss the one we had in our neighborhood because they carried a wide variety of pens and pads that you just can’t find anymore. Initially, the local Staples had a good inventory. Lately, it’s been paired down to the stuff that sells fast. I was unable to get a replacement ribbon for the adding machine that I bought for my wife two years ago. I also was unable to buy a light bulb at Home Depot that fit the lamp I bought in that store two weeks earlier. Sorry, my reply is morphing into a rant. I’ll stop.

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          1. No, Dan, that’s OK. I agree. It is frustrating NOT to have what was available on the shelves. You should hear my husband on this subject when he comes home sometimes just furious because what he needed to replace is no longer available and what is available is not up to his standard of quality. Quality seems something of the past. Example … I took a close look at the stitching on this new purse I bought and it is sloppy and by the looks of it, won’t last long. *sigh* Yes, made in China. Eveything is being mass produced in such a way that quality is no longer a concern. They have it figured how long something is going to last, I swear. I have a washing machine that is 26 years old, and darn it, I will NOT let go of it until it really dies because I know a new one won’t last me longer then 5 years, IF that. My washer has seen a lot of activity and yep, it has its quirks, but it works and works well. I could go on, too, Dan. It is just getting harder and harder to find what we really want and to find quality as well. See? You are not the only one who feels like you do. (((HUGS))) Amy

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            1. My wife had (our) first heavy duty washing machine for well over 15 years. It broke. She bought the current model from the same manufacturer and we had to return it because it wasn’t cleaning the same heavy items (cushions for a dog bed) that it’s predecessor cleaned perfectly. The salesman said: “yeah, you can’t really think of this as a heavy duty machine.” It had a tag on it that said Heavy Duty! Manufacturers don’t know what “quality” means any longer.

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            2. Yup. I know. That is why I am hanging on to my washer. I have a lot of heavy duty items I wash. The belt has been replaced a few times, and I have to run the spin cycle a little bit sometimes due to all the water not out, but it still works. Dryer same thing. The heater is going on it, so I have to run one load of clothes sometimes twice. I don’t want new. New is not like what was made 20 years ago. *sigh* Yup. Know all about it, Dan.

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  10. When I was growing up (I still am) and we saw pants “dangerously high above the shoes”, we always asked if the wearer was expecting a flood:)
    Now to catalogs-I like them. Just this morning I spent several minutes going through a catalog from our local college. I wanted to see all the fun and leisure classes they offer that appeal to me. I like having the information in a “hard copy” for easy and quick reference.

    Enjoy your catalogs and your week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! the day after I posted this, the new WoodCraft catalog arrived. Regarding pants, I have been asked that particular question at times, so I am very careful theses days :)

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