What Was Montgomery Ward?
Let’s go all the way back to 1872 when Montgomery Ward & Company began it’s pioneering mail-order business. Aaron Montgomery Ward started this company in a room above a livery stable in Chicago Illinois. Coincidentally, this story is not unlike many successful online businesses we see today. It usually starts with very humble beginnings. Of course, 1872 was a very different time and the concept of a mail order catalog seemed crazy. Yes, Mr Ward was crazy…crazy like a fox!
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Why was Montgomery Ward called Monkey Wards?Although this cannot be 100% verified, it is believed that Montgomery Ward sold exotic live monkeys. Back in 1872, this is not entirely a crazy idea. The name Monkey Wards was born!
Monkey Wards Competition
Twenty years after it’s inception, Montgomery Ward had some serious competition from another mail-order business. You may have heard of them. They were called Sears. At the turn of the century, Sears had sales over $10 million and Montgomery Ward was a close second at $8.7 Million. Mr Ward knew he had to increase his gross sales, so he opened his first retail storefront on 1926 in Plymouth, Indiana. Only two years later, he increased this number to 244 brick and mortar stores. Amazing!
Monkey Wards Struggle and Decline in the 70’s
In the 1970’s, due to a series of poor business decisions, the great Montgomery Ward began to struggle. By 1985 it closed it’s mail-order business permanently. Yes, we could bore you with all the financial details but let’s save that for another time. In the late 90’s, companies like Target and Walmart began to become more and more of a threat and Montgomery Ward could not withstand the pressure.
Originally, GE Capital promised to support Montgomery Wards In 1997, but reneged soon after. Monkey Wards officially declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and after the dismal Christmas selling season of 2000, closed all remaining retail stores. 37,000 employees were out of work
Monkey Wards Goes Online
In 2004, an online marketing company called Direct Marketing Services Inc purchased the intellectual property of Montgomery Ward and began selling online under that name. This acquisition did not quite work out for them and the Montgomery Ward name was sold again to Swiss Colony.
If you want to check them out today, you can find their online store below:
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