When we were vintage shopping, I came across a 1976 Montgomery Ward catalog. What a trip down memory lane! The thing was a beast — over 1200 pages — as it displayed not only the lovely polyester leisure suits on the cover but offered for sale all manner of items. There were chain saws, dollhouses, blenders, and underwear. You name it, and it probably was in the catalog.

Over the years, I have heard criticism of Amazon and how it has become this monster selling everything “from A to Z.” I had never really thought about it before, but Sears and Montgomery Ward were doing the same things decades before — just with a different ordering and delivery system. They were the one-stop shop for everything from apparel to tools to appliances — just as Amazon is the go-to retailer for almost anything today.

As you move into the new year looking for new ideas to reinvigorate your business or organization, maybe a starting place is looking back instead of looking forward. Consider who was successful decades ago and see if you can adapt or adopt their essence and modernize it with today’s technology and expectations. The arrival of the catalogs used to be a delight — maybe you can rekindle some nostalgia as you bring a few of the ideas from the past into the present.

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