In anticipation of Christmas and while in the “shopping” spirit, I found an absolute TREAT on archive.org this week. Actually I stumbled upon it by complete accident when I was looking for a completely different topic.
This is a department store catalog from 1958. This catalog is called Eaton’s Christmas Book and features all kinds of toys, electronics, and other gift ideas during the time period. I imagine my Grandparents used a similar catalog to buy gifts for my parents. What a nostalgic look at things past!
I really didn’t know anything about Eaton’s so I looked up some information that might shed some light on what Eaton actually was. Apparently, it started as a mail-order catalog business in 1884 in Canada and was started by Timothy Eaton. By 1896, it had become the Amazon.com of its time, sending out some 135,000 parcels through the postal system and 74,000 via express. Eaton tried to cater to as many rural customers as possible; however, there was a storefront in the city where local customers could actually make a live purchase. Some additional info on Eaton’s business can be found here: https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/mailorder/029006-200-e.html
An even LARGER collection of Eaton’s catalogs and information can be found here:
A booklet called The Story of a Store tells the firsthand account of the expansion of this business complete with awesome pictures and illustrations to help you better understand the complexity of the operation.
The last Eaton catalog was published in 1976.
Reminiscing through this old catalog got me reflecting on the excitement of Christmas shopping with my Mom and Grandparents at our hometown department store called E.J. Korvette’s. There were times we were actually with my Mom while she shopped for presents (TOYS) for my brother and I; however, we had to wait in a certain part of the store while she paid for them and had my Grandfather stash them in the trunk. While there is at least one TV commercial on YOUTUBE for Korvette’s, I’ve yet to find a catalog online to take a look at. While I seem to remember us going there frequently, they closed permanently in 1980 due to bankruptcy.
Another Christmasy place we’d go is our local Staten Island Mall, which featured an exciting Radio Shack which promised great and amazing things from this new computer called the TRS-80 (and IN COLOR). It was a tiny shop set in the upstairs corner and they allowed kids to play on the computers while their parents watched. Well, my brother and I adopted any parent who happened to be standing nearby so we could play all day…
I did find a catalog from this time (CLICK HERE). I really liked grabbing their free catalogs because I used to fantasize about building a spaceship in my backyard and of course, where else was I going to order the electronics? Of course, that’s a crazy story for another time.
Merry Christmas everyone!