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Made in Chicago: Mail order previous 11 of 18 next

Mail order Aaron Montgomery Ward had been a traveling salesman for a dry-goods wholesaler for two years when he developed an idea for a national mail-order business. Although it was not the first mail order business, it was the first business to offer a bountiful variety of items for purchase and delivery, rather than just a select few. The catalog especially served Americans in rural or frontier areas, who had limited access to manufactured products. Ward made his company successful by seeking advice from his customers about which products he should offer, in addition to keeping prices low and quality high. By the 1890s, Ward's catalogs ran to more than five hundred pages, and he received over 15,000 orders a day.

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