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First Catalog

August 13, 2014

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Profile America — Wednesday, August 13th. Even in this Internet world, many of us still receive printed catalogs through the mail, especially near the holiday season. The first such catalog -- more of a flyer -- was sent out by Montgomery Ward late this month in 1872. That first catalog consisted of only one page, featuring 163 items for mail order purchase. The idea was so successful that by 1904, the Ward's catalog weighed in at four pounds. Montgomery Ward ceased producing its catalog in 1985, and the company itself eventually failed in the largest retail bankruptcy liquidation in American history. But the home shopping business is still thriving. There are about 24,000 electronic shopping and mail order houses, and each year they sell over $220 billion worth of goods. Profile America is in its 17th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sources: NAICS 45411

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: July 29, 2014